NLRB to hear testimony this week in SPEEA charge against Boeing

The National Labor Relations Board will listen to testimony this week on a labor charge filed against the Boeing Co. by the union representing its engineers and technical workers.

The Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace filed a complaint last month accusing Boeing of withholding information the union has requested during contract negotiations. SPEEA also claims that Boeing threatened employees with disciplinary actions for engaging in union activities.

A Boeing spokesman previously dismissed SPEEA’s claims as “totally without merit” and said the company has abided by federal labor law throughout negotiations.

The NLRB will hear testimony Wednesday and Thursday as part of the process as the labor board tries to determine what action to take if any. SPEEA announced the testimony dates in an update on contract talks with Boeing on Tuesday.

Negotiations between Boeing and the union have been heated. Boeing requested the help of a federal mediator following a negotiation session last Thursday that was described as “frustrating.”

Tuesday’s session was the first in which mediators from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service attended negotiations, which were held at a Seattle hotel instead of at either Boeing or SPEEA offices. However, at the union’s request, the mediators were there in a limited role, observing the discussions and not leading talks.

SPEEA represents 22,765 Puget Sound area engineers and technical workers. Their members design and test Boeing aircraft. They’re also responsible for signing off on jet deliveries.

The union described Tuesday’s negotiations again as “frustrating” and “often confrontational.”

“The company is not coming ready or willing to negotiate with our teams,” Ray Goforth, SPEEA executive director, said in statement. “The company is trying to force a confrontation and ultimately impose a bad offer on SPEEA.”

Tuesday evening, Boeing issued a statement saying it would not provide an update about the day’s session.

Boeing and SPEEA have been negotiating in earnest since April but remain at odds over wages, pension and heath care benefits. SPEEA members already have voted down the company’s first contract offer.

Boeing and SPEEA will meet again Wednesday.

Meanwhile, SPEEA continues to take steps to prepare its members for a strike. The union is holding training sessions Wednesday and Thursday to train members on how to be picket captains should a strike occur.

Union leaders have not sought strike authority from members yet. SPEEA has staged only one significant strike against Boeing. The union’s strike in 2000 lasted 40 days. A strike is not likely until after the new year.


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