Boeing Co. machinists soundly rejected a new labor contract on Wednesday that would have let them build the company's newest jetliner in Washington, a historic decision that could forever alter the course of Boeing's 97-year presence in the state.
The 31,000 International Association of Machinists members voted by a 67 percent margin against a deal that would secure an estimated 20 years of work building Boeing's 777X jet, but that would have terminated their pension plan and raised their healthcare costs.
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The decision means Boeing will consider building the 777X in non-union U.S. states or in Japan.
A crowd of more than 100 people erupted in cheers when the vote was announced amid a charged atmosphere at the union's main hall in Seattle.
The vote means Boeing will look for other locations to build the 777X, the only jet it is likely to develop in the next 15 years. Even though workers gave up their chance for jobs, they considered the giveaways in the contract too grave to accept.
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Boeing "overreached," said Kathy Cummings, a Washington State Labor Council official.
Boeing swiftly issued a statement saying it had sought to strike a balance between its desire to build the jet in the state and to get what it termed a competitive cost structure.
"We are very disappointed in the outcome of the union vote," Boeing Commercial Airplanes Chief Executive Ray Conner said in the statement.
"Without the terms of this contract extension, we're left with no choice but to open the process competitively and pursue all options for the 777X."