Members of the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA) returned a split decision on Boeing’s offer for a new four-year contract. Engineers agreed to accept the offer by a count of 6,483 to 5,514, but technical workers voted to reject by a tally of 3,203 to 2,868. Although the technicians also granted their SPEEA negotiating team authorization to call a strike, avenues to avoid a walkout remain, said SPEEA director Ray Goforth, suggesting further meetings between union leaders and the company negotiators could result in a last-ditch settlement.
While the company offers extended most elements of the previous contracts, including 5 percent annual wage pools and no increases to employees for medical coverage, union members found fault with the elimination of the traditional pension plan for future employees. In its place, Boeing offered a 401(k) retirement package that would, according to the union, slash the retirement benefit by 41 percent. The union also demanded contract language guaranteeing that changes to the government Social Security cap on taxable income or the eligibility age for the government-administered Medicare insurance plan would not affect existing employees. Boeing refused to include such language in its “best and final offer.”
SPEEA’s last strike at Boeing, in 2000, lasted 40 days and slowed aircraft production to a crawl.
“There are pathways to a negotiated agreement available,” said Goforth. “With this second rejection by technical workers of Boeing takeaways, it’s time for the company to stop wasting resources and improve its offer to reflect the value and contributions technical workers bring to Boeing. That way, we can avoid a strike and focus on fixing the problems of the 787 and restoring customer confidence in Boeing.”