Boeing, SPEEA negotiations inch along

Michelle Dunlop Herald Writer

Negotiations between the Boeing Co. and the union representing engineers and technical workers sputtered along Wednesday with discussion over a training program that’s jointly managed.

Boeing and the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace continue to be at odds over several key contract items including pension, wages and health care costs. Messages sent to members following Wednesday’s meeting indicated that the union and Boeing also don’t agree on funding for the training program, named for Ed Wells, a Boeing engineer who had a hand in creating aircraft like the B-17 and 747.

“There are significant gaps in many areas,” Bill Dugovich, SPEEA’s communications director, said of negotiations.

The two parties are to meet again on Thursday.

SPEEA represents 22,765 Puget Sound-area engineers and technical workers who are responsible for designing, testing and signing off on deliveries of Boeing jets. Union members rejected the company’s initial offer on Oct. 1.

On Wednesday, Boeing posted online a checklist outlining which proposals it has withdrawn or amended in the contract at SPEEA’s request compared with the original offer.

Union leaders haven’t asked members to give negotiators the authority to call a strike. But SPEEA is taking steps to prepare workers for a strike, should one occur. Training begins next week for SPEEA members interested in being picket captains.

It’s unlikely the union would call a strike until after Boeing’s annual holiday shutdown, which begins Dec. 24.

The union also is ramping up other campaigns, such as asking members to refuse voluntary overtime. One SPEEA member also started an online petition asking Boeing to grant survivor benefits under its pension plan to same-sex married couples.

For more information, visit Boeing’s negotiations website or SPEEA’s website.