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Boeing signs tentative six-year deal with engineers union

14 January 2016

Boeing Co said yesterday that it had struck a deal with its engineering union to extend labour contracts for over 20,000 workers by six years.

Ratification of the agreement would end contract negotiations months ahead of a 6 October deadline and ensure a key part of Boeing's workforce could not strike as the world's biggest plane maker brought its new 777X jetliner into service by 2020.

According to commentators, the agreement comes as a win for Boeing and its new chief executive Dennis Muilenburg after the company strained relations with machinists in 2014 over a contract that phased out pensions.

The agreement comes as pressure mounts on the company for moving thousands of jobs out of Washington state after it secured $8.7-billion in industry tax incentives.

"This tentative agreement recognizes the significant contributions of our engineering and technical workforce and reinforces Boeing's commitment to the Puget Sound region," said Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Ray Conner in a statement.

According to the union, its executive board unanimously endorsed the deal and its two bargaining unit councils, with dozens of members each had overwhelmingly recommended it.

According to Ray Goforth, the endorsements, suggest members were likely to ratify the contracts by a wide margin.

The new terms were thrashed out during formal talks after the year-end holiday break, well ahead of the expiry of the current contract in October, Boeing said yesterday in a statement.

The accord deals with wage increases, retirement benefits and other provisions. Members would receive ballots next week and votes would be counted on 10 February.

''These contract extensions are the result of a lot of hard work and good will,'' Goforth said in a separate statement. ''Hopefully this gives us a template for the future.''

Relations between Boeing and its engineers had  strained with the company announcing plans to create engineering centres in other states and shift some work from its traditional Seattle-area base.

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