Boeing's new IAM members go right on strike

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Even as its Machinists strike enters its third week, the Boeing Co. continues to hire new production workers -- who then go on strike.

Most of the new workers report to picket duty rather than to Boeing's commercial jet factories, which have been silenced since 27,000 Machinists went on strike Sept. 6.

"It doesn't make sense to turn off the system," said Boeing spokesman Tim Healy.

Boeing's hiring process takes several weeks of screening and preliminary tests, including some unpaid time. Newly hired workers are informed of the ongoing strike and most opt to participate in it.

Since Sept. 5, the company has hired about 130 new Machinists, said Connie Kelliher, spokeswoman for the union. That's not an uncommon practice during a labor strike, she added.

Since 2005, Boeing has been on a hiring spree, bringing on as many as 200 Machinists in a week to handle a big backlog of orders. But that trend has slowed, according to the latest Snohomish County job numbers reported by Employment Security Department this week.

Boeing had offered the union an 11 percent wage hike over three years and a minimum of $5,000 in bonuses in the first year. But the Machinists said Boeing's offer cost them more in health care and fell short in terms of job security.

The two sides continue to say they're willing to talk but no negotiations have been scheduled.


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