Negotiations to end a 45-day machinists union strike against the Boeing Co. will resume Thursday with a federal mediator in Washington, D.C.
Arthur R. Rosenfeld, director of the U.S. Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, told both sides “that he wants the parties to reconvene negotiations under the auspices of the FMCS,” according to an agency statement Monday.
The announcement came one week after two days of bargaining, the first since the strike began Sept. 6, ended in failure.
“Your solidarity brought Boeing back to the bargaining table,” union spokeswoman Connie Kelliher wrote in a statement to union members that was released to news outlets.
“We hope this meeting marks a major step forward to resolve this strike. The union will continue to do everything possible to bargain a contract that addresses the concerns our members have identified,” she added.
Boeing spokesman Jim Proulx confirmed that the talks were resuming and said, “We look forward to working with the federal mediator and the IAM” to end the dispute.
The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers represents about 25,000 electricians, mechanics, painters, riveters and other hourly production workers in and around Seattle, 1,500 in Gresham, Ore., and 750 in Wichita, Kan. It’s the union’s fourth strike against Boeing in less than two decades, following walkouts of 28 days in 2005, 69 days in 1995 and 48 days in 1989.
Boeing’s commercial aircraft assembly plants have been shut down throughout the strike, costing the company an estimated $100 million or more a day in deferred revenue — $4.5 billion or more as of Monday.
Last month the company reported about 30 fewer airplane deliveries because of the strike. A more clear picture of the impact of the strike on Boeing is expected when the company’s third-quarter financial report is issued Wednesday morning.
Union members, meanwhile, have been getting $150 a week in strike pay, less than one-seventh of their average pay.
The thorniest issue has been job security, with pay, retirement benefits and medical care also top union priorities.
Seeking to prevent further losses in various job categories following aggressive Boeing outsourcing in recent years, union leaders have sought to re-establish union jurisdiction over deliveries of parts and supplies to the shop floor, lost in a contract that took effect in 2002, and stronger rights to bid against subcontractors.
In the cold, rainy morning hours before the new talks were announced, strikers from plants in Everett, Renton, Auburn and Seattle said they were increasingly feeling the pinch of the strike.
“People are hurting right now,” said Jeff Payne, a 28-year Boeing veteran outside the 737 jet factory in Renton. “The fear factor is setting in, I think.”
Vickie Johnson, a plumber with 4½ years at Boeing, said she had been able to save up only a little money before the strike but, like virtually every other picket, said she was prepared to stay our “however long as it takes.”