SEATTLE---Negotiators for The Boeing Company's second largest union hammered out an improved offer today that will be submitted to members for a vote.
The two sides met for nearly seven hours working out details of the agreement. In the end, the union won concession on four out of five major issues, said Charles Bofferding, executive director of the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace.
"The membership solidarity and dedication prompted the Boeing Company to make significant changes in the contract,'' Bofferding said. "We held the line on benefits, we protected the weekends and we reduced the length of the contract from four to three years.''
The revised contract offer still needs to be approved by the SPEEA membership.
The union won numerous concessions. Concessions won by the union include removing the 10 percent medical co-pay and retaining retirement benefits for early retirees. In addition, there will be no mandatory schedules containing weekend days. Boeing also reduced the length of the contract from four to three years.
The offer does not include a guaranteed general wage increase for the engineers. However, the union did win total increases of 8 percent the first year, 4.5 percent the second year and 4.5 percent the final year to the pools available for engineer wage increases. Some of that money will be distributed through a job reclassification process. Technical employees pools are 5.5 percent, 4.5 percent and 4.5 percent with 3 percent guaranteed in the first year and 2 percent guaranteed in the final year.
Boeing did not grant SPEEA members a bonus. Because there was no bonus, union negotiators were not unanimous in their desire to recommend acceptance. "The issue of the bonus is all about respect,'' said Doug Smith, lead negotiator for the technical bargaining unit. "It's all about building a long term relationship with the Boeing Company.''
However, the union was able to win additional benefits in the form of extending medical benefits for laid-off employees from the current three months to six months.
SPEEA represents 22,300 engineers and other technical workers at Boeing in seven states. Workers have been without a contract since January 5.
Union negotiators will now report to the SPEEA council tonight (Thursday, Jan. 13). The council will decide whether to have members vote by mail or in-person at a rally on Monday at Mercer Arena. The mail-in ballot would take about two weeks while in-person balloting could be completed in one day.
Despite the gains, union officials said Boeing could and should do better. "We applaud the members for their work to get these improvements. It is a victory,'' said Craig Buckam, SPEEA president. "But we are not done. We will continue to push to get the proper respect and rewards for the people we represent.''
Key concessions achieved by SPEEA:
Benefits: 10% benefit copays turned back Maintained early retirement medical Kept pension plan and increased minimum benefit from $40 to $50 per month No increase in copays, deductibles, and total out of pocket costs Achieved $2 copay for prescription drugs Protected the weekends: All schedules including weekend work are now voluntary Premiums for schedules including weekends were increased
Duration: Reduced contract from four to three years
Boeing / SPEEA: Union Wins Improved Contract Offer, Recommends Members Accept