Monthlong Boeing strike at California plant ends

Boeing Co. workers who assemble C-17 planes returned to work Thursday after a monthlong strike that shut down production of the jumbo cargo jets in a stalemate over benefits.

Members of United Aerospace Workers Local 148 voted 823 to 544 Wednesday in favor of the new 58-month contract reached after federal mediators stepped into the standoff last week.

The new deal, which was struck Monday, extends the contract by 12 months. It reduces employee health care contributions from the previous offer, which caused nearly all 1,700 mechanics to walk out May 11.

Union leadership recommended approval of the deal, which included an increase in pension benefits while leaving pay increases and job-protection proposals untouched. Boeing offered a $4,000 lump-sum payment in lieu of a raise this year, with 3 percent annual wage increases in following years.

Boeing employs nearly 5,000 people in Long Beach, with C-17 vendors and suppliers in 44 states supporting an estimated 30,000 more jobs.

C-17 production is expected to end by 2013 as military orders have dropped off.

Boeing spokeswoman Cindy Anderson said in a statement early Thursday that the new contract will allow Boeing to keep C-17 affordable in order to win new orders and extend production.

© 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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