Boeing Machinists in St. Louis will vote Sunday on a new contract.
The tentative deal reached yesterday is designed to lower the cost of making fighter jets and avoid layoffs here. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the deal sweetens buyouts for veteran workers and cuts wages for many future hires, while setting raises, bonuses and benefits through 2022.
Boeing officials say the changes are needed in order to reduce the cost of building the F/A 18 Super Hornet, with the hopes of keeping the line going after 2016.
The union vote comes one day before the Pentagon releases its next fiscal budget, which isn't expected to include any new Super Hornets for the Navy.
Boeing officials plan to ask Congress to add 20 new Super Hornets when they revised the budget.
Boeing employees in St. Louis should know later this year if they're going to keep building F-18 Super Hornet fighter jets for the U.S. Navy after 2016.
The Navy had planned to switch over to the new F-35 Joint Strike Fighters built by Lockheed-Martin. But the F-35 project has been plagued with delays, cost overruns and other problems. So the omnibus spending bill signed into law last week (Jan. 17) contains a down payment of $75 million for 22 of Boeing's F-18s, even though the Navy didn't ask for them.
The law requires Navy officials to take another look at adding to the existing F-18 fleet as a hedge against more problems with the F-35.