Machinists To Labor Board: Boeing Vote Was Unfair

Jan 9, 2014

Boeing machinists stand in line to vote on an upgraded contract on Jan. 3. They narrowly approved the contract. Now eight machinists say the vote was unfairly pushed on workers while so many were away.
Boeing machinists stand in line to vote on an upgraded contract on Jan. 3. They narrowly approved the contract. Now eight machinists say the vote was unfairly pushed on workers while so many were away.
Credit KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Eight union machinists have filed complaints with the National Labor Relations Board about the contract vote that determined the Boeing 777X jet would be built in Washington state.

The complaint comes a week after the machinists narrowly approved the upgraded contract. They had voted down the first version of the contract in November by 67 percent.

The workers said the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers should not have allowed the vote for Jan. 3, when many of the machinists were still on vacation.  

“I don’t think it gave my brothers and sisters a fair chance to vote, whatever way they wanted to vote, yes or no,” said Robley Evans, one of the eight machinists. He said he contacted the labor board when he realized members would be out of town.

Three thousand fewer people voted in the Jan. 3 vote than in the November vote. The national union, which pushed the vote despite local protests, said the vote was conducted properly. If those thousands of members had voted, they might have swayed the vote.

The labor board will decide ultimately if that’s true. The board has the power to nullify the vote, although it may choose a different path if it determines the national union unfairly forced the vote.

Machinists who complained said that workers stood around for hours waiting for voter eligibility cards that they were supposed to receive by mail. Those who tried to vote online also struggled, he said.

Randal Miles, a machinist stop steward, fired off a complaint on voting day.

“I had several people that had access to the computer that tried to do absentee that were denied,” Miles said. “I wanted to let the International know that people weren’t getting to vote and that people were walking out of the lines not getting to vote. My hope was that they would delay it.”

Local Machinist Enters International Election

In the latest sign of tension between the local union and the national organization following the 777X vote, a top local union official has joined the race to unseat the leadership of the International union.

Jason Redrup said members across the country need change after the International forced the vote in Seattle. 

Those who have done this to our membership – there needs to be a political price that they pay for their actions,” he said before a meeting at the Machinists Seattle union hall. “The members should have a democratic choice on the direction this union is going to go in the future.”

The International is holding an election because it was required by the Department of Labor.

An investigation found problems with the election the International held last summer, and the labor department called on the union to hold another election.