Boeing said Thursday that its employees had resolved a major union dispute by approving a deal expected to stabilize labor relations as the company ramps up production in the coming years.
It said the deal, reached late last month after weeks of secret talks, would ensure the 737 MAX was built in the northwestern US state of Washington and should lead to the settlement of a government case against the company.
Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Jim Albaugh said the deal, which includes a four-year contract extension, would "help secure a better future for our employees, our customers, our communities and our company."
"It's a balanced agreement that makes us more competitive and ensures that the 737 ... continues to be built by the people who know how to do it best."
Union leaders had praised the agreement at a press conference last week.
"This is a new day, the start of a new way of doing business," Tom Wroblewski, of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, said.
The contract extension comes 10 months before the existing contract expires. But the union wanted to close a deal early to ensure that final assembly of the modernized 737 remained in Washington state.
Boeing for its part wanted to settle a National Labor Relations Board case. It stood accused of having illegally retaliated against the union by opening a second non-union production line for its 787 Dreamliner in South Carolina in 2009.
That decision came after a 58-day strike that year at the plant in Washington, near Seattle.
Wroblewski said last week that if the membership ratified the deal the union would inform the government that "our issues with the Boeing company are behind us."
US Republicans have attacked President Barack Obama's administration for its action against Boeing.
In September, the Republican-led House of Representatives approved a bill that would ban the federal government from ordering an employer to shut down plants or relocate workers, even if labor laws were violated.
Last month Boeing scored its largest-ever deals -- an order from Emirates airline for 50 long-range 777-300ERs worth $18 billion and 230 737 models for Indonesia's Lion Air worth $21.7 billion.
© 2011 AFP