NLRB sides with SPEEA charge against Boeing, calls hearing

Even with labor contracts in place, the Boeing Co. still is in hot water for actions by the company during negotiations with the union representing engineers and technical workers.

The regional director for the National Labor Relations Board has found that Boeing violated federal labor law during contract talks with the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace. A hearing with an administrative law judge has been set for Aug. 6 in Seattle.

SPEEA-represented engineers ratified a new contract with Boeing in February. Technical workers agreed to the labor contract in March.

Over the nearly year-long negotiations, SPEEA leaders filed several complaints against Boeing with the NLRB.

The NLRB determined that Boeing threatened union members with discipline if they discussed potential layoffs. Such discussions are protected under the National Labor Relations Act.

The regional director also found that Boeing broke labor law when it withheld information from SPEEA that was pertinent to negotiations.

“All through negotiations, Boeing said it needed to lower costs or it would move work elsewhere,” said Ray Goforth, executive director of SPEEA. But Boeing refused to provide details about the cost of doing business elsewhere.

“Bargaining is over, but it would be helpful to have that information,” said Goforth.

A Boeing spokesman emphasized that union members already have accepted the company’s contract.

“Boeing disagrees that any employees were disciplined inappropriately or that any information was unlawfully withheld and maintains that its actions were consistent with all applicable labor laws,” Doug Alder, a Boeing spokesman, wrote in an emailed statement.

The NLRB previously dismissed a couple of SPEEA’s other complaints against Boeing, but SPEEA is appealing those, Goforth said. The labor board also is still reviewing a claim involving alleged illegal surveillance of union members.

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