SPEEA, Boeing ‘making progress’ in talks

After a month of exchanging jabs, leaders for the Boeing Co. and the union representing the company’s engineers and technical workers had two days of “productive” contract talks this week.

“There’s still a lot to do,” Bill Dugovich, communications director for the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace, said Thursday. “We’re not there yet. But we’re making progress.”

The 22,765 Boeing technical workers and engineers represented by SPEEA design and test the company’s aircraft. Union members voted down Boeing’s first offer, 15,097 to 608, on Oct. 1 after a 10-day voting process.

Although Boeing and SPEEA officials returned to the table Oct. 2, meetings in recent weeks hadn’t drawn warm remarks from either side until Wednesday.

What was magical about Wednesday? That’s when Boeing reported $1 billion in third-quarter earnings — although the company also emphasized soaring pension costs.

“I think it was a combination of the very good earnings report and realizing our members were united in their effort to get a contract that reflects their contributions,” Dugovich said.

The company made some changes to its health care proposal to provide “the detail and security” that are consistent with the union’s existing contract, Boeing negotiators wrote in a message to employees. The two sides also tentatively agreed Wednesday on provisions for holiday pay and jury and witness duty for part-time employees.

Boeing’s initial contract offer included annual raises of between 2.5 and 3.5 percent. The company proposed higher contributions from employees for health care and wanted to offer new SPEEA members a 401(k) plan, rather than the defined pension that members have now.

On Thursday, Boeing and SPEEA both issued the same message to members and employees, calling the day’s talks “productive.”

Before the contract vote Oct. 1, Boeing CEO Jim McNerney told Reuters he thought the company and union would reach an agreement within “a few weeks.” In an email Thursday, Boeing spokesman Marc Birtel noted that the company “remains focused on reaching an agreement as soon as possible.”

The two sides decided to scrap a third negotiating session scheduled for Friday but will meet again next Wednesday.

SPEEA’s contract formally expired Oct. 6 but remains in effect. In late September, the union told Boeing that it would terminate the contract Nov. 25, a move that allows the union to strike thereafter. So far, however, SPEEA negotiators have not sought necessary strike authorization from members.

The union has struck Boeing twice: for a day in 1993 and for 40 days in 2000.

Michelle Dunlop: 425-339-3454; mdunlop@heraldnet.com.

Talk to us

More in Herald Business Journal

Barre3 owner Gina Drake leads an exercise class in the Red Barn at 5th Ave S and Maple Street on Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2020 in Edmonds, Washington.  (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Barre3 teaches a fitness trifecta for balance during COVID-19

The full-body workouts combine strength conditioning, cardio and mindfulness to help you feel balanced.

An access road leads into plot of land located in north Darrington that could potentially be used to build a 30-acre Wood Innovation Center, which will house CLT manufacturing and modular building companies on Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021 in Darrington, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
$6 million grant is green light for Darrington timber center

The Darrington Wood Innovation Center is set to become a reality — bringing roughly 150 jobs with it.

Boeing 777 makes emergency landing in Moscow

The plane landed safely and no one was injured.

Boeing’s decorated 787 Dreamliner on display at a celebration for the Boeing Employees Community Fund last year at the Boeing Future of Flight Aviation Center in Mukilteo. (Janice Podsada / Herald file)
Boeing’s deepening 787 inspections risk longer delays

The company will use freed-up space in Everett to inspect and repair the plane’s tiny imperfections.

FILE- In this Oct. 19, 2015, file photo, an airplane flies over a sign at Boeing's newly expanded 737 delivery center at Boeing Field in Seattle. Federal regulators have imposed $5.4 million in civil penalties against Boeing on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021, for violating terms of a $12 million settlement in 2015, and the aircraft maker has agreed to pay another $1.21 million to settle two current enforcement cases. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)
Boeing will pay $6.6 million to settle FAA allegations

The company failed to put adequate priority on complying with regulations.

FILE - In this Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019, file photo, a United Airlines Boeing 737 Max airplane takes off in the rain, at Renton Municipal Airport in Renton, Wash. Federal auditors are issuing fresh criticism of the government agency that approved the Boeing 737 Max. The Transportation Department's inspector general said Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021, that the Federal Aviation Administration must improve its process for certifying new planes.  (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)
Federal watchdog blasts FAA over certification of Boeing jet

It will take five years to finish making the Transportation Department’s 14 recommended changes.

Hamburger cheese with beef, salad, tomato and ham isolated on white background.
You voted: The best hamburger in Snohomish County

Even during a pandemic, people still have their favorites.

In this image taken from video, the engine of United Airlines Flight 328 is on fire after after experiencing "a right-engine failure" shortly after takeoff from Denver International Airport, Saturday, Feb. 20, 2021, in Denver, Colo. The Boeing 777 landed safely and none of the passengers or crew onboard were hurt. (Chad Schnell via AP)
Metal fatigue seen as trigger for Boeing 777 engine failure

A preliminary investigation suggested a crack that grew gradually over time prompted the failure.

Boeing 757 flying to Seattle makes emergency landing

The 16-year-old jetliner was powered by Pratt & Whitney engines.

This Saturday, Feb. 20, 2021 photo provided by Hayden Smith shows United Airlines Flight 328 approaching Denver International Airport, after experiencing "a right-engine failure" shortly after takeoff from Denver. Federal regulators are investigating what caused a catastrophic engine failure on the plane that rained debris on Denver suburbs as the aircraft made an emergency landing. Authorities said nobody aboard or on the ground was hurt despite large pieces of the engine casing that narrowly missed homes below. (Hayden Smith via AP)
Boeing: 777s with engine that blew apart should be grounded

Video showed the engine fully engulfed in flames as the plane flew through the air.

A portion of the site of the proposed Lake Stevens Costco at the intersection of Highway 9 (right) and South Lake Stevens Road (below, out of view). (Chuck Taylor / Herald file)
Legal battle stalls Costco’s planned store in Lake Stevens

“We intend to keep them in court until they get tired of us and go away,” an opponent of the project said.

FILE - In this Jan. 25, 2020, file photo a Boeing 777X airplane takes off on its first flight with the Olympic Mountains in the background at Paine Field in Everett, Wash. Boeing is reporting another huge loss, this one because of a setback to its 777X widebody jetliner. Boeing said Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2021, it lost $8.4 billion in the fourth quarter on weaker demand for planes during the pandemic. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)
Boeing says 2 directors are leaving as board faces scrutiny

Arthur Collins Jr. and Susan Schwab won’t stand for reelection at the shareholder meeting in April.