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

Snohomish County’s campaign to land the 797 takes off

Executive Dave Somers announced the formation of a task force to urge Boeing to build the plane here.

For modern women, 98-year-old rejection letters still sting

In a stark new video, female Boeing engineers break the silence about past inopportunity.

Drone’s ease piercing of NY ‘no-fly’ zone underscores risks

An Army Black Hawk helicopter suffered damage to one of its rotor blades, but was able to land safely.

Disney buying large part of 21st Century Fox in $52.4B deal

Before the buyout, 21st Century Fox will spin off the Fox network, stations and cable channels.

Commentary: GM, Boeing fight a war of words over Mars

Boeing is strongly signaling how crucial deep-space exploration is to its future.

Angel of the Winds pays $3.4M for Everett arena naming rights

The casino replaces Xfinity as the lead sponsor for the publicly owned downtown Everett events center.

Delta orders 100 Airbus A321neo jets valued at $12.7 billion

Boeing had hoped to land the deal, offering comparable 737s.

‘Not surprising’: FCC repeals net neutrality rules

Internet service providers will be free to slow down competing services and sell faster speeds.

Rubio to vote against tax bill if child credit isn’t expanded

Sen. Bob Corker announced that he would vote against it due to concerns on the federal deficit.

Most Read