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Boeing leaders, Machinists to resume talks

The Boeing Co. and the union representing its roughly 27,000 Machinists will return to the bargaining table Thursday in Washington, D.C., at the request of a federal mediator.

Earlier talks with the federal mediator in Eastern Washington failed to produce a new contract to present to the members of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. Those talks recessed on Oct. 13.

One of the main issues remaining is job security; the union fears that outsourcing Boeing work would mean the loss of hundreds of union jobs.

Arthur R. Rosenfeld, director of the U.S. Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, in a statement called the ongoing strike by the Machinists against Boeing “a priority matter for this agency.”

Wednesday is the 47th day of the strike. The union estimates that Boeing is losing about $100 million a day because of the strike; a tally on the union web site (www.iam751.org) puts those losses at about $4.6 billion.

Boeing released its third quarter 2008 financial results early Wednesday morning. The company's third-quarter profit dropped 38 percent as a strike and supplier production problems hurt results at the world's No. 2 commercial airplane maker. Its shares fell more than 6 percent in afternoon trading on Wednesday.

Boeing issued the following statement in regard to the talks:

"We've remained in frequent contact with the federal mediator, and we look forward to resuming discussions with the IAM. We want to resolve the strike in a way that rewards our employees while we retain our ability to compete in a dynamic and challenging market."

The Machinists union issued a statement Monday to members on its web site:

"After 45 days on the line, your solidarity brought Boeing back to the bargaining table. Since talks adjourned last Monday, we have kept the lines of communication open and have agreed to pursue additional talks through the federal mediator.

"At the direction of the federal mediator, new talks will be held in Washington, D.C., beginning Thursday.

"We hope this marks a major step forward to resolve this strike. The union will continue to do everything possible to bargain a contract that addresses the concerns our members have identified.

"It is important as we move forward that we continue to stay strong on the picket lines. That's how we're going to secure a contract that will settle this strike."

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