Boeing counters union’s critique of offer

By Michelle Dunlop Herald Writer

A squabble over a labor contract between the Boeing Co. and the union representing 22,765 engineers and technical workers in the Puget Sound region continued Thursday.

Boeing released a series of counterpoints to assertions made by the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace about the contract proposal the company made last week.

For its part, SPEEA posted an online calculator, which allows members to determine how Boeing’s offer would affect them individually as compared to the existing contract.

On Monday, SPEEA negotiators urged the engineers and technical workers who design and test Boeing aircraft to reject the company’s first contract proposal. Union officials decided not to continue contract talks this week with Boeing, characterizing negotiations thus far as “a special kind of disrespectful.”

About 1,500 Boeing engineers and technical workers rallied Wednesday inside the company’s factory in Everett to show displeasure over the contract offer.

Boeing officials on Tuesday labeled SPEEA’s curtailment of further talks an “unprecedented departure” from typical contract negotiations. The company noted several “misrepresentations” by SPEEA in the union’s offer summary.

Chicago-based Boeing called its detailed response Thursday a “clarification.” It contains Boeing’s responses to SPEEA assertions, including that this is the lowest salary increases offered by the company since 1975 and that the company is offering “below-market” vacation for workers.

On Thursday, SPEEA mailed out ballots to members, who have until 5 p.m. Oct. 1 to vote on Boeing’s contract offer. The union has not included a strike authorization measure as part of the vote. Union officials say they’ve asked Boeing to return to contract talks on Oct. 2, should members reject the company’s offer.

SPEEA leaders say a strong rejection of the proposal will send a “loud message to Boeing corporate leaders that they must return to negotiations ready to actually negotiate a contract that respects our contribution.”

Boeing negotiators including Mike Delaney, vice president of engineering for commercial airplanes, consistently have emphasized the need for a contract that offers “market-leading” compensation yet keeps the company “competitive now and 10 years from now.”

The negotiations come at a time when Boeing not only is increasing aircraft production but also is gearing up on several design programs including the 737 MAX, 787-9 and 767-based refueling tanker.

For more information on the contract offer, visit Boeing’s website, boeing.com/speea-negotiations, or SPEEA’s website, www.speea.org.

Herald reporter Michelle Dunlop: 425-339-3454 or mdunlop@heraldnet.com.