Mediators to attend Boeing, SPEEA contract talks Tuesday

Federal mediators will sit in Tuesday on contract negotiations between the Boeing Co. and the union representing its engineers and technical workers.

The mediators will be there only as observers when the parties meet Tuesday afternoon at a Seattle hotel.

That’s not what Boeing officials had wanted when they sought assistance Thursday from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service.

“We are still pushing for them to take a more active role,” Doug Alder, a Boeing spokesman, said on Monday.

But leaders for the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace agreed to talks only if the mediators were there as observers, he said.

“It’s not ideal from our point of view but it starts the process (with federal mediators),” Alder said.

SPEEA officials confirmed that mediators would be present in Tuesday’s talks. The union represents 22,765 engineers and technical workers in the Puget Sound area. Those employees are responsible for designing, testing and signing off on deliveries of Boeing aircraft.

SPEEA and Boeing formally began negotiations in April, though they spoke informally about a new contract several months prior. In October, union members voted down Boeing’s first contract offer.

After exchanging new proposals, talks came to a standstill last week with Boeing proposing mediation. On Friday, the two sides couldn’t agree on where to meet with the federal mediator.

In an update on the union’s website Monday evening, SPEEA provided specifics about Boeing’s major proposals, including wages, pension and medical benefits. Negotiators for the union expressed frustration and called Boeing’s proposals “unacceptable.”

“Inflation and increased medical premium contributions significantly reduce the value of the salary increases that you receive over the term of this proposal,” SPEEA officials wrote.

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