Boeing, SPEEA no closer to deal after talks resume

The first negotiating session after the long Thanksgiving weekend resulted in no breakthroughs for the Boeing Co. and the union representing 22,765 engineers and technical workers in the Puget Sound area.

Negotiators for the company and the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace discussed wage and medical proposals on Tuesday. But messages sent to employees from the two sides indicated that Boeing and SPEEA continue to be at odds.

In its message, the union said it will hold training sessions for picket captains next week, although SPEEA leaders haven’t asked members to give negotiators the authority to call a strike.

“We are doing everything possible to avoid the need for a work stoppage,” SPEEA’s negotiators wrote. But they signaled the need to be prepared in scheduling picket training meetings.

SPEEA members voted down Boeing’s first contract offer, with 96 percent voting no, on Oct. 1. Union leaders have since encouraged members to refuse voluntary overtime and to perform work according to written procedures, which could slow jet production or deliveries. SPEEA members are responsible for designing and testing aircraft as well as signing off on airplane deliveries.

Last week, Boeing presented the union with a new offer on wages. The company proposed wage pools of between 3 percent and 4.5 percent annually. The minimum annual raise any engineer or technical worker would receive under the proposal would be 1.5 percent. Larger raises would go to higher-performing workers. Last Wednesday, SPEEA countered Boeing’s offer with a proposal of 6 percent annual raises.

SPEEA’s contract expired Sunday. However, the majority of provisions remain in place under federal labor law for up to a year. And SPEEA now can strike — or Boeing could lock workers out. Union leaders have said a strike likely would not happen until the new year, if at all.

The company and union were to meet again on Wednesday.

For more on SPEEA and Boeing, go to www.speea.org and boeing.com/speea-negotiations.

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

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