Strike over, Boeing workers return to Long Beach assembly line
Assembly of Boeing Co.’s C-17 cargo planes resumed in Long Beach on Thursday after a majority of the 1,700 workers who had walked off their jobs agreed to a new labor contract, ending a nearly monthlong strike at Southern California’s last remaining major airplane factory.
The United Auto Workers Local 148 said more than 60% of the striking workers voted to ratify the five-year contract that the union and the Chicago-based aerospace company had reached last week.
Although there will be no pay raise this year, workers will get a $4,000 lump sum payout and a 3% annual raise over the remaining years of the contract. In addition, Boeing is increasing its pension contribution by $2 a month to $81 a month for every year of service.
Also, employees will have to pay only 13% of their medical costs in an HMO plan rather than the 15% contribution the company had sought.
“We believe we got a fair deal,” local President Stan Klemchuk said. “I know the company is happy to have us back. And we’re happy to be back.”
The workers walked off their jobs May 11 after labor talks stalled over medical and pension benefits. A federal mediator last week called the two sides back to the negotiating table, citing the potential harm the strike could inflict on the economy.
The strike had paralyzed a program that involves nearly 700 suppliers employing 30,000 people in 44 states. The Boeing plant is the largest private employer in Long Beach. In addition to the striking assembly workers, the C-17 program employs 3,000 people in various support and administrative positions.