SPEEA can’t ‘extract’ more from Boeing without a strike

Contract ballots were mailed Thursday to 7,500 Boeing Co. technical workers, whose rejection of the company’s offer would “almost certainly lead to a strike,” union leaders say.

Negotiators for the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace have “extracted everything we could” from Boeing without calling for a strike, they wrote in a letter sent Thursday to members. Technical workers will have until 5 p.m. on March 18th to return their ballots to the union.

The technical workers will vote on the same contract offer they rejected by a margin of 3,203 to 2,868 last month. SPEEA-represented engineers voted to accept Boeing’s offer by a margin of 6,483 to 5,514.

Boeing was unwilling to improve its offer due to the narrow margin of rejection by technical workers, SPEEA leaders wrote. Following the vote, the two sides resumed negotiations for less than a day before SPEEA leaders decided to send the contract back to technical workers for a vote.

“The membership must decide if it is willing to engage in a potentially lengthy strike in an effort to achieve a better contract offer,” union leaders wrote.

Boeing’s offer includes 5 percent annual increases to wage pools over the four years of the contract. Medical benefits remain the same without additional contributions by employees.

The major change is to the retirement plan for new SPEEA members, who will be enrolled in a 401(k) plan rather than the defined pension. After engineers accepted Boeing’s contract, SPEEA President Tom McCarty deemed the fight for pension “dead.”

That’s the sentiment Boeing has been pushing from the beginning of negotiations, saying it needed to cut pension costs to stay competitive. In recent months, Boeing appealed to SPEEA members’ sense of loyalty as the the company strives to return its grounded 787 to commercial service.

“We urge employees to take charge of their future and approve the contract. It is time for all of us to come together and focus on the challenges facing the company,” Boeing said in a statement on Thursday.

SPEEA leaders have said a strike by technical workers would still hurt Boeing even though engineers will not be taking part. Technical workers interface between engineers and machinists, who build Boeing jets. The technical workers also play a role in flight testing, customer service and calibration.

More in Herald Business Journal

Health-care consumers need to take the lead, so get smart

David Russian, CEO of Western Washington Medical Group, writes our third essay about fixing health care.

Robots on Wall Street: Slow-footed regulators lose ground

Watchdogs have to figure out how to check computers running lightening-fast algorithms.

More business, more competition for Everett kidney dialysis center

Nonprofit Puget Sound Kidney Centers sees large for-profit competitors enter state market.

Molina Medical holds fall carnival for families in Everett

Molina Medical is hosting a free event for families in the Everett… Continue reading

Leadership Snohomish County celebrates 20 years of service

Leadership Snohomish County is celebrating its 20th anniversary. The organization was launched… Continue reading

Snohomish, Monroe manufacturers honored for innovation, excellence

Two Snohomish County companies have been honored with Manufacturing Excellence awards at… Continue reading

Remodeled home tours planned this weekend

This weekend, Edmonds-based Chermak Construction will participate in the 2017 Remodeled Homes… Continue reading

Barron Heating to celebrate anniversary at Marysville showroom

Barron Heating and Air Conditioning is celebrating its 45th anniversary from 10… Continue reading

US budget deficit hits $666B, an $80B spike for the year

The deficit issue has largely fallen in prominence in Washington in recent years.

Most Read