Machinists have been standing in line for hours to vote in Everett today, unlike November when the lines moved quickly.
With only two volunteers stationed at computers inside the union hall to ensure machinists are eligible to vote, the line has weaved out the door and through the parking lot all afternoon.
Those who received their eligibility forms in the mail are able to go directly into the union hall and cast their vote to either accept or reject the most recent contract offer from Boeing.
But many people either did not receive their card, or forgot to bring it.
“I wasn’t even watching the mail for it,” said Brian Kohls, who has worked at Boeing for 27 years.
In November, because the vote was called with short notice, the union had all the eligibility cards alphabetized inside the hall, rather than mailing them, a union steward explained.
However, because there was more time before today’s vote, the union mailed out eligibility cards, which is the normal procedure.
Kohls, 51, is still on vacation, but waited in line without his form for almost two hours to vote ‘no’ Friday afternoon.
“We’ve been on strike four times and Boeing wants us to give back everything we striked for,” he said. “What if we told them we wanted to renegotiate our contract before it was up – Boeing would laugh at us.”
Steve Rush and Ely Briones, both 747 workers for more than 25 years, rejected the first contract offer in November because they said the union made them vote too fast, without enough time to sit down and understand the contract fully.
After having more time to read the details of the contract and do the math, both men decided to change their vote and accept Boeing’s revised offer.
Rush says he wants to believe Boeing will keep the 777x in Washington even if the contract is rejected today, “but at this stage of my career, I’m not willing to take that chance,” he said.
However, many machinists do believe Boeing will build the 777x in Washington even if the vote is rejected.
“Logically, I don’t see it going anywhere else,” said Denny Ramsey, a 777 mechanic and union steward, who has worked at Boeing for three years.
“The customer wants a quality airplane built on time, and the only place that can happen is here,” Ramsey, 35, said.
– Reported by Coral Garnick