Boeing hopes a $2,500 signing bonus will seal the deal

September 2, 2008

It’s been three years since the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers last agreed to a contract with Boeing, the end result of a strike at the aerospace company that lasted about a month.

Boeing said the 2005 strike caused it to deliver 29 fewer planes than expected that year, translating to about $2 billion in lower revenue. Boeing 787 Dreamliner fuselage

Ahead of the long weekend, the IAM rejected Boeing’s “best and final”. Now the scenario is playing out for another confrontation, with one difference: Boeing’s popular 787 Dreamliner program has no more room for delays.

The first deliveries of the new, composite-built jetliner have been delayed three times, and is already about 15 months behind schedule.

Union negotiators have urged a vote for a strike on Wednesday – a simple majority is needed to reject the contract and a two-thirds majority is needed to OK a strike. The odds of a walkout are not as dire as they seem. Boeing “has too much at stake to allow a strike,” Credit Suisse analysts said Tuesday.

“Whereas one week ago we thought a strike was likely, we now believe one is unlikely,” Wachovia analysts said. That happier outlook was prompted, in part, by Boeing’s $2,500 first-vote ratification bonus offer. It’s payable only if the contract is approved by Wednesday. “Avoiding a work stoppage improves the chance (though hardly ensures) that another 787 delay could be avoided,” the analysts told clients.

Boeing, in an attempt to speak directly to union members, posted details of the final proposal online.

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