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Boeing, locked out firefighters reach tentative contract deal

FILE PHOTO: The Boeing logo is seen on the side of a Boeing 737 MAX at the Farnborough International Airshow

By David Shepardson

(Reuters) -Boeing and a union representing about 125 of its firefighters said on Wednesday they had reached a tentative contract deal that if approved by members would end a weeks-long lockout.

Boeing in early May locked out members of the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) Local I-66 after they rejected two contract offers, in a move that drew the concern of President Joe Biden.

Boeing and IAFF Local I-66 said in a joint statement they expected results of a vote on the deal on Thursday, which would end the lockout and months of negotiations.

"This tentative agreement addresses the needs of our firefighters and the company," the statement said.

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The proposed four-year deal includes general wage hikes of 2% to 3% annually, with guaranteed overtime increasing annual pay on average up to $21,216, as well as a $1,000 signing bonus and other compensation improvements, according to a joint fact sheet from the company and union seen by Reuters.

The deal also includes job classification restructuring that allows more opportunities for promotion.

If the deal is approved on Thursday, firefighters are expected to return to work on Saturday.

Boeing said in early May it had offered to increase firefighters' average take-home pay from $91,000 to $112,000 in the first year.

The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers is separately negotiating a new contract on behalf of more than 30,000 workers who build Boeing's 737 MAX jets.

Boeing 737 MAX production has fallen sharply as the Federal Aviation Administration steps up factory checks following a panel blowout on a new Alaska Airlines 737 MAX 9 in January, blamed on an assembly error. Boeing is set to meet with the FAA on Thursday to discuss its 90-day plan to boost quality.

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Mark Potter and Jamie Freed)