Long Beach Boeing C-17 workers reject contract offer

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Brian Watt/KPCC

The Boeing C-17 plant in Long Beach employs 5,000 people. United Aerospace Workers Local 148 represents roughly 1,700 line workers.

The threat of a strike hangs in the air at the Boeing C-17 plant in Long Beach. Union workers on its assembly line have rejected the aircraft company’s latest contract offer.

Members of the United Aerospace Workers local 148 have chosen to keep working for now. But last month, 95 percent of the 1,700 members voted to authorize union leaders to call a strike when they’re ready.

On Tuesday, almost 80 percent rejected what Boeing called its best and final offer. In a statement, Boeing negotiators called the vote disappointing, and said their offer improved on the current contract that just expired. The new offer increases pay and pension contributions, and Boeing describes it as one of the best in the industry.

Union negotiators called the offer a blatant attack on wages, pension, and medical benefits, and “union busting at its finest.” They said that voting it down was one step in the process of reaching an agreement the workers can live with. Both sides expect to return to talks within days. Boeing's statement says the company is "reviewing contingency planning issues that need to take place in the event of a strike."

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