But union leaders said there would need to be a reason to take such
a step and that no formal request for action had been made.
"The vote is over and it was counted under the eyes of the members,"
said R. Thomas Buffenbarger, president of the International
Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM), which
represents the Boeing machinists and other workers in the United
States and Canada.
"The tally is what it is."
The issue appeared decided late on Friday when local machinists
voted very narrowly in favor of the contract, apparently securing
thousands of jobs and billions of dollars of economic activity for
Washington state, but at the cost of union members' defined-benefit
Some members of the International Association of Machinists District
751 plan to rally at the union hall in Everett, Washington, on
Monday afternoon, said a source close to the union, calling for a
recount of the narrow vote or a completely new vote. Other union
members confirmed plans for the rally. A Facebook page run by union
member Shannon Ryker also had several posts about the planned event.
Ryker, a structural mechanic who works on Boeing's 777, said dozens
of workers also planned to carpool to Seattle this week to file
complaints about the vote.
"People are very angry," she said. "Some people have been physically
ill. A lot of members reported that they feel like there's been a
death in the family."
Local union lodges plan to discuss the issue when they meet over the
next three days, said the source close to the union, who did not
want to be named because he was not authorized to speak publicly.
It was not immediately clear how any procedure to reconsider the
vote would work.
The contract offer, which was approved by a 51 percent majority of
machinists on Friday, exposed rifts in the union.
Had the workers rejected the offer, Boeing would have considered
making the successor to its popular 777 widebody jet elsewhere, and
had received offers from 22 states interested in hosting the new
But approving it meant pensions would be capped in 2016 and replaced
with a defined-contribution plan.
Local union leaders staunchly opposed the offer and had urged
members to reject the deal.
[to top of second column]
But Buffenbarger and the union's international leaders, based in
Washington, D.C., had urged the machinists to consider it carefully,
while stopping short of a full endorsement.
Younger workers tended to favor the deal, whereas older workers were
more hostile as they had fought for the pension in the past and many
are close to retirement.
About 600 votes separated yes from no in the latest vote, union
officials said on Friday, and about 8,000 of the 31,000 eligible
union members did not vote. That is much higher than the prior vote
in November, when about 4,500 did not vote, said Lester Mullen, a
District 751 council delegate who works on the 777 wing production
Some workers said they did not like the choices between voting away
their pension or voting away their jobs.
Others were on vacation, as the vote came just after Boeing's
traditional week-long closure between the Christmas and New Years
But the international union leaders said everyone had an opportunity
"I made a very rare exception and authorized electronic voting,"
Buffenbarger, the international president, told Reuters. "You could
be in Guam and still cast a vote."
Buffenbarger mailed letters to machinists' homes local leaders and
posted updates on website about it.
At least two members have filed complaints against the international
union with the National Labor Relations Board. And more could be
filed this week, Ryker said.
International leaders said there are many close votes in the
contracts it administers and they do not get recounted or re-voted.
"Just because there is a close margin is not a reason for recount or
revote," said Frank Larkin, spokesman for the International. "It is
(Reporting by Bill Rigby and Alwyn
Scott; editing by Phil Berlowitz and Andre Grenon)
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