The Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace, IFPTE Local 2001 is currently in contract talks with Boeing. Talks that will affect union members in Palmdale, Calif., and at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., as well as workers in Washington State.
Jan. 16, the union proposed incorporating areas of agreement from ongoing negotiations into existing contracts and extending the agreements for another four years.
This “best and final” offer was presented as negotiations resumed with the assistance of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service at the SeaTac Hilton in Washington.
Boeing Jan. 17 presented the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace union with its best-and-final contract offer, agreeing with the union’s approach to extend the terms of the previous contract for current employees. The proposed four year contract would roll forward the current agreement, except for proposals explicitly agreed upon by both parties during negotiations.
Under this offer, all employees represented by SPEEA would see salary pools of 5 percent annually for the duration of the contract. The average professional engineer would see $84,071 in additional pay and performance-based incentive payments over the life of the agreement. The average technical employee would see $64,515 in additional pay and incentive payments.
“This is a market-leading offer by all measures – rewarding our employees for the contributions they make every day,” said Mike Delaney, vice president of Engineering, Boeing Commercial Airplanes. “Agreeing to this contract as soon as possible will allow all of us to focus our time and energy on the immediate challenges facing the company.”
Under the offer, the company’s high quality health care plans would remain in place with no increase in employee contributions. For new hires only, an enhanced retirement savings plan is being proposed that would replace the traditional pension. Pensions for current SPEEA-represented employees would not be affected, and the pension basic benefit would be increased.
“Moving new hires to an enhanced retirement savings plan will provide future employees with a market-leading retirement plan – while allowing Boeing to better manage retirement plan expenses, reduce financial risk and invest in areas critical to the success of our business,” said Delaney.
Boeing did agree to extend same-sex survivor pension benefits.
The union, however, rejected Boeing’s offer.
In a statement released Jan. 17, the union said “Boeing’s actions reiterate the company’s growing disrespect for the engineers and technical workers who are essential to working issues and restoring confidence in the 787. “While the company agreed to extend parts of the existing contracts, the offers put retirement benefits for all 23,000 engineers and technical workers, including retiree medical, at risk. In addition, Boeing’s corporate negotiator said the company will end the pension for future employees.”
Ryan Rule, Professional Negotiation Team member, said, “We are profoundly disappointed the company is taking advantage of our good-will offers to push through unwarranted cuts, put existing retiree benefits at risk and eliminate the pension for future employees.”
The union claims it represents engineers and technical workers who are essential to solving the mounting issues with the 787, including assisting the Federal Aviation Administration’s investigation and restoring confidence in the 787.
Boeing rejected SPEEA’s offer after stating publicly that the company does not need SPEEA members for the FAA investigation or working the 787 issues. Last week, Mike Delaney, vice president of engineering for Boeing Commercial Airplanes, said managers and engineers from other areas of the company could do the work.
SPEEA members will vote on the company’s offers in the coming weeks. Ballots are likely to include a request to grant the Professional and Technical Negotiation Teams authority to call a strike.
SPEEA members rejected Boeing’s initial offer by 96 percent on Oct. 1, 2012. Today’s actions come after nearly a year of negotiations. In recent weeks, SPEEA members have been preparing in earnest for a major strike that could idle Boeing factories and send engineering and technical experts to the picket line.
“Boeing corporate created the 787 problems by ignoring the warnings of the Boeing technical community,” said Joel Funfar, Technical Negotiation Team member. “Now, they propose to double down on their failed outsourcing strategy by outsourcing the engineering work required to solve the problems caused by previous rounds of outsourcing.”
SPEEA and Boeing started meeting in April to negotiate new contracts for 15,550 engineers and 7,400 technical workers. In October, engineers rejected Boeing’s initial offer by 95.5 percent. Technical workers rejected the company’s offer by 97 percent. Existing contracts expired Nov. 25. Since negotiations resumed Jan. 9 after a month-long FMCS-imposed recess, union members have increased preparations for a possible strike. A 40-day strike in 2000 by SPEEA stopped deliveries and caused major factory and service bottlenecks at Boeing plants around the country.