International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers at Boeing Co., Chicago, went on strike today after rejecting a proposed $6 increase in their pension benefit to $66 per month for each year of service, the top issue of contention with the company's contract offer, according to a union statement.
The "company multiplier of $66 is insulting and is the lowest percentage increase ever since the plan was established in 1955 — even though it was your top issue," according to another IAM&AW statement to members. "Boeing could easily afford a $20 pension increase with no general wage increases ... "
"We are disappointed with the outcome of the IAM vote today," according to a Boeing statement. "No one ever benefits from a strike. … We offered a comprehensive contract that compared favorably with others in our industry and in the regions where we operate."
Charles Bickers, Boeing spokesman, said, "We've always had a well-funded, well-managed, secure pension plan. We put $4.4 billion into our plans last year. We have said we'd put $1.6 billion into our plans this year. … Many companies in America have difficulty meeting their obligations to pensions. We've improved our pension, which is at a competitive level. We maintained a 401(k) match at 50% up to 8% (of pay). We think (our pension) is at a competitive level, and we want to make sure retirees can rely on the pension fund."
Union spokesmen couldn't be reached for comment.