Boeing, Machinists Union Reach Tentative Deal

Boeing and the International Association of Machinists have reached a tentative deal that would extend the contract for four years and end Boeing's dispute with the National Labor Relations Board. If approved, the agreement would mean that a new version of the popular 737 model would be built by union workers in Washington state, and that the new 787 model could be assembled in South Carolina, which is a right-to-work state.

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Boeing announced a surprise deal with its machinists' union yesterday. It tentatively extends the workers' contract for four years. The company also promises to build a new version of its popular 737 in union-friendly Washington State.

From Seattle, NPR's Martin Kaste reports.

MARTIN KASTE, BYLINE: The International Association of Machinists also got pay raises and more pension benefits. Local president Tom Wroblewski calls it a new day.

TOM WROBLEWSKI: The fact is, Boeing is in a hiring mode right now, and our skills, our aerospace skills are in high demand.

KASTE: Boeing had another reason to make nice: It's being sued by the National Labor Relations Board, which accuses the company of setting up a non-union assembly line in South Carolina in an attempt to punish the machinists for a strike in 2008. The NLRB action angered Republicans, especially South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, who called it a bastardization of the law.

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: This is a frivolous complaint beyond imagination. This is using the law for a political purpose, and I really do resent that.

KASTE: With a tentative new contract in hand, the union is now asking the NLRB to drop its case against Boeing, though both the union and the company insist that their deal does not depend on the NLRB calling off its dogs. Martin Kaste, NPR News, Seattle.

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