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by GLENN FARLEY / KING5 News Aviation Specialist

Bio | Email | Follow: @GlennFarley

Posted on February 20, 2014 at 7:28 PM

Updated Friday, Feb 21 at 7:09 AM

On Sunday, members of the Machinists Union District 837 in St. Louis will vote on a new seven-and-a-half-year contract extension, similar to what Machinists in Washington state barely approved on January 3 to win production of the 777X airliner.

One thing in common is that the St. Louis Machinists are also being asked to move away from a traditional pension plan to a 401k style “defined contribution plan.”  In those plans employee contributions into a retirement fund are matched by the company, with the money invested in things like stocks and bonds. That move has been met with anger and resistance in the Puget Sound.

The St. Louis labor agreement was announced Wednesday night and is being recommended by the leadership for passage. Unlike the Puget Sound region of Washington, which is seeing a booming business in airliner production, St. Louis factories are focused on fighter jets and military hardware and are struggling with tighter defense budgets.

Right now production of the F-18 Super Hornet is slated to end in just two years in 2016 unless more orders can be found.  Boeing is expected to make the case to the Pentagon that by lowering the relative price of the jets with a new labor deal it can bring in more business and secure jobs. The plant also makes big parts for the C-17 cargo jet for the U.S. Air Force that is slated to shut down in late 2015.  Boeing assembles the C-17 in Long Beach, California.

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