c.2014 New York Times News Service

c.2014 New York Times News Service

After Boeing’s workers in Washington state voted down an eight-year contract extension in November, Boeing wasted little time in soliciting offers from other states to build its new 777X aircraft.

Within weeks, 22 states made proposals to Boeing, with some offering billions of dollars in subsidies to lure a project that would mean thousands of jobs and the prestige of having such a prominent manufacturer.

All this so alarmed the leaders of the main union representing Boeing workers, the International Association of Machinists, that its president has brushed aside the objections of the local union and ordered a new vote — scheduled for Friday — on a slightly revised version of the contract extension.

The dispute highlights a rift within the union, one that reflects the varying priorities of its leadership. Union officials in Washington state want to preserve gains hard won from a company that has surging profits and record plane orders. But the international leadership sees a different threat — the possibility of losing a large manufacturing center and more than 10,000 union jobs to a right-to-work state where it would be difficult to win representation. And that could mean a big loss in dues — Boeing workers in the Puget Sound area paid $25.5 million in dues to the international union in 2012.

Boeing has promised to put final assembly of the 777X in the Seattle area, as well as fabrication of the aircraft’s wings, if the 31,000 Boeing machinists vote to approve the revised deal.

But that is by no means a sure thing. The president of the international union, R. Thomas Buffenbarger, defied union leaders in the Puget Sound area by ordering the new vote, and those leaders are urging Boeing workers to once again vote down the extension, which calls for numerous concessions.

Washington state, where the 777 is assembled, has promised Boeing $8.7 billion in tax breaks through 2040 if it puts the final assembly of the 777X in the state.

Many Boeing workers complain that the parent union has scheduled the vote for Friday, when many will still be on vacation for the holiday season. Many machinists also say they are not being given enough time to study and discuss the revised proposal.

Frank Larkin, communications director for the machinists’ parent union, said it was vital to hold the vote soon. “The timing was driven largely by Boeing’s attempt to announce in early January its plans for where it will place assembly of the 777X.”