Boeing union addresses recent negative image of the company

FOX 13 News spoke to the local Boeing machinist union president about how the 32,000 workers in Washington and Portland feel about their company following months of negative headlines.

On Friday, Jon Holden, the president and directing business representative of the local Boeing machinist union, spoke about contract negotiations between workers and the company.

However, the focus turned to Boeing’s recent negative headlines.

Just this week, Boeing’s name has been tied to three separate incidents involving United Airlines. Despite fault not even being determined in all of these incidents, Boeing’s stock was down 2.24% on Friday.

The local airplane builder has struggled all year. The woes for the company started in January when a door plug on an Alaska Airlines flight blew off in midair.

At the time of the incident, Sen. Patty Murray put out a release calling for executives to put safety over profits.

Holden says workers are angry.

"I know that people are proud of the work they do, the product they build, and feel that sometimes the rug is pulled out from under them," he said.

Aviation experts say Boeing is in the spotlight right now, but believe the company can get back to the top.

Holden says his workers believe in the product they are building.

"There is no Boeing company without us, and we have what it takes to build this company to the level it was. And that's what our focus will be, going forward," said Holden.

This is the first time in 16 years the union has negotiated the entire agreement between workers and the company, Holden said.

He says the recent negative headlines only show just how important workers are to the company.

"I believe we have the most leverage we’ve ever had in years," said Holden.

He says the negotiations are focusing on higher pay, better benefits like retirement security, health care and time off. Holden also said job security is one of the biggest issues going forward, and that comes down to making sure the next airplane program is built in the area.

Boeing released this statement regarding the start of negotiations:

"We look forward to reviewing the IAM’s proposal and continuing our discussions in good faith. We’re confident there’s a path to a deal that addresses the needs of our employees while allowing us to compete in a very competitive global market."