TUKWILA, Wash. – Boeing Co. and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers were a vote away from ending a strike that ran for nearly a month. At press time, both sides agreed to a revised three-year contract that gives workers a nearly 17% boost in pension payouts and guarantees retiree medical benefits for new hires. It also assures that health care premiums remain the same as the current contract. Boeing also agreed to do away with a plan that would have increased previous monthly out-of-pocket expenses for medical-insurance premiums and co-payments. Machinists and aerospace workers with the union were scheduled to vote to approve the contact on Sept. 29. Meanwhile, the $5.5 billion BECU had activated its Income Interruption Program in response to the strike, which began on Sept. 2. The program provided temporary assistance to members of the CU in meeting their basic need expenses for food, housing and medical care. It also allowed members to apply for payment deferrals on existing auto, boat, personal and home equity loans, as well as apply for new personal loans to cover their basic need expenses. Car loans from other institutions were also eligible to be refinanced and payment deferred for up to 90 days. As of Sept. 23, 4,235 loans were deferred and more than 250 loans were funded under the program, said Todd Pietzsch, BECU spokesman. Of the roughly 16,500 Boeing employees on strike nearly 95% of them belong to the CU, he added. “It looks real positive,” Pietzsch said on union members approving the contract. Of BECU’s 410,000 members, approximately 80% of them have some ties to Washington’s largest credit union, Pietzsch said. The new contract offer could also see workers receiving a straight bonus of 8% based on last year’s salary, or about $5,000 and a $3,000 cash bonus in the second and third years of the contract. If approved, it would allow Boeing to swiftly re-open its commercial airplane assembly facilities in the Puget Sound area here, Gresham, Ore., and Wichita, Kan. Pietzsch said if the contract is approved, BECU will allow between 45 to 60 days before the first payments are due on deferred loans. -msamaad@cutimes.com