Boeing Co. Machinists go on strike

Boeing Co. Machinists voted Thursday to strike as union members overwhelmingly rejected a three-year contract proposal their leaders had deemed "insulting."

Union members voted 86 percent in favor of a strike beginning at 12:01 a.m. local time Friday. Under union rules, the contract would have been automatically ratified, and workers would have stayed on the job unless two-thirds of the union members voted to strike.

The strike will affect about 18,400 Machinists who assemble Boeing's commercial airplanes and some key components in the Seattle area, Gresham, Oregon, and Wichita, Kansas.

Company officials said earlier in the week that a strike would be devastating, forcing the company to slowly shut down commercial airplane production.

Leaders of the Seattle-based Machinists Lodge 751 had urged its members to "reject this insulting Boeing proposal," saying it fell woefully short on top issues including pension payments and increased health care costs. District Lodge 751 is negotiating for employees in all three states, although some terms differ based on location, according to the AP.

Chicago-based Boeing has defended its retirement proposal as one of the best in the industry, and the company said that despite some medical-cost increases it would continue to shoulder the bulk of workers' health care costs.

The union last went on strike in 1995, when workers walked out for 69 days.

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