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Boeing impact remains unknown

Boeing union machinists’ rejection of a contract extension last week has not had a big impact on Whidbey residents, yet.

The ramifications of the contract rejection, blasted by union members for having too many concessions but would have ensured the 777X’s place in Everett, are unknown. Rejecting the deal puts production of some of the new jet at risk for the Puget Sound area. However, future work will be on the line for the roughly 600 Boeing Machinists Union members who live in Island County — about 30,000 union members work for Boeing in all — when The Boeing Co. makes its decision next year.

The media representative of IAMAW District 751, the union of Western Washington’s Boeing machinists, said that after 67 percent of voting members refused the contract, business was back to normal Nov. 14.

“Everybody went to back to work on Thursday,” said District 751 spokesman Bryan Corliss. “We’re under contract until 2016 and still building airplanes.”

Business leaders on South Whidbey are not sure about the long-term impact of the union’s vote. In the meantime, however, nothing will change because the union is still under contract.

“For the near future, nothing is going to happen,” said Freeland Chamber of Commerce director Chet Ross.

“Anything we say is speculative.”

He noted Whidbey Island has weathered the ups and downs of Boeing employment before. Ross, who is on the board of the Island County Economic Development Council, said the Boeing contract would likely be a discussion point at the meeting today, Nov. 20, in Coupeville.

“I’m sure we’re going to talk about it,” he said.

Island Transit has 17 registered vanpools, carpools sponsored by the public transportation organization, which end at Boeing facilities. Seven start on Camano Island, six begin in Freeland, four each leave from Oak Harbor and Coupeville, two depart from Clinton and one from Bayview.

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