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Boeing machinists march to their IAW Union local in Everett, Washington, where they voted to reject the contract but delay a strike for 48 hours. - 


Renita Jablonski: Airplane-maker Boeing just got a bit of breathing room in its battle with the powerful Machinists Union. The union's 27,000 members voted decisively yesterday to reject a new contract and go on strike, and then promptly agreed to wait 48 hours before hitting the picket lines. From Portland, Mitchell Hartman has the latest.

Mitchell Hartman: The request to go back to the bargaining table came late Wednesday night from a federal mediator and from Washington Governor Chris Gregoire. The Seattle area would take a big hit from a strike by Boeing's well-paid assembly workers, who last walked off the job in 2005 over wages, benefits and job security.

And the issues are pretty much the same this time around, says union spokesperson Connie Kelliher. Only worse, because the company has been making money hand over fist.

Connie Kelliher: In a time when this company is posting record profits, they want concessions from their workers. We should not be fighting to hold onto what we've already won in the past.

Boeing calls its final offer -- 11 percent in wage hikes over three years --"outstanding," but says it will listen to union concerns. A long strike would cost the company $3 billion a month in lost revenue, and it would further delay the new 787 Dreamliner and a revamped 747 jumbo jet. Which could in turn cast a shadow on one of the rare bright spots in the U.S. economy -- aircraft manufacturing.

I'm Mitchell Hartman for Marketplace.

Follow Mitchell Hartman at @entrepreneurguy