SPEEA talks with Boeing resume this week

The union representing Boeing Co. technical workers is polling members online through Wednesday about contract priorities as negotiations with the company resume this week.

The Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace launched the survey Friday on its website after technical workers earlier in the week voted down Boeing’s second contract offer. The technical workers also rejected the company’s initial offer in October.

Contract talks will start up again Wednesday, a Boeing spokesman said. Federal mediators in Washington, D.C., are expected to take part. Boeing had asked for mediator assistance late last year, before presenting the union with its second offer.

Boeing technical workers perform a variety of tasks for the company, serving as liaisons between engineers and machinists on the shop floor. Some are involved with aircraft flight testing, customer service and calibration. Technical workers at Boeing’s Portland, Ore., location are “key to the production of landing gear,” said Bill Dugovich, SPEEA communications director.

The technical workers not only rejected Boeing’s offer but voted to allow SPEEA negotiators to call a strike should future negotiations break down. Boeing’s 15,500 engineers, who also are represented by SPEEA, accepted the company’s offer in voting that ended Tuesday.

The technical workers and engineers haven’t differed in a contract vote like this since 1989, Dugovich said. Then, the technical workers accepted Boeing’s contract while engineers rejected it. Two months later, the engineers ratified a new contract without calling for a work stoppage.

Dugovich declined to speculate how likely a strike is by Boeing’s 7,400 technical workers, of whom about 3,900 work in Everett. He said the union’s goal is to get a contract the technical workers will accept. The survey will help SPEEA negotiators understand where the technical workers’ priorities are.

“There are some issues that could require a strike,” Dugovich said.

In the last offer, SPEEA leaders flagged a change in retirement plans for new workers as the “poison pill” or major issue that prompted them to urge technical workers and engineers alike to reject the contract. Engineers went against negotiator recommendations, voting 6,483 to 5,514 to accept the contract.

Boeing has downplayed the impact of a possible strike throughout negotiations, saying it has contingency plans.

But Dugovich doesn’t believe the company could easily mitigate a strike by the technical workers.

“You couldn’t remove more than 7,000 workers and not have an effect,” he said.

Herald writer Michelle Dunlop: 425-339-3454 or mdunlop@heraldnet.com.

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.

A decade after the recession, pain and fear linger

No matter how good things are now, it’s impossible to forget how the collapse affected people.

Panel: Motorcycle industry in deep trouble and needs help

They have failed to increase sales by making new riders out of women, minorities and millennials.

Costco rises as results display big-box retailer’s resiliency

Their model has worked in the face of heightened competition from online, brick-and-mortar peers.

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

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

Tax reform needs the public’s input on spending priorities

The GOP tax plan is a good idea, but the next step should give us a voice on how taxes are spent.

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

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

Under cloud of ethics probes, Airbus CEO Enders to step down

He leaves in 2019 after 14 years. Meanwhile, aircraft division CEO Fabrice Bregier leaves in February.

$4.99 sandwich promotion irks some Subway business owners

Management insists that “most franchisees support the promotion.”

Most Read