Even as the Machinists strike at Boeing entered its third week yesterday, the outlines of the company's next labor showdown emerged. The union that covers...
Even as the Machinists strike at Boeing entered its third week yesterday, the outlines of the company’s next labor showdown emerged.
The union that covers 17,550 engineers and technical workers in the Puget Sound area delivered its initial contract proposal to Boeing yesterday, and many of its requests closely mirror those made by the Machinists.
“Our issues are very similar, with the addition of salary for us,” said Bill Dugovich, a spokesman for the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace.
In response to member surveys, SPEEA’s top priorities this year are health care, wage increases, job security and retirement.
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Daily talks between SPEEA and Boeing will begin Nov. 1 at the DoubleTree Hotel in SeaTac. The union wants a final offer from Boeing by Nov. 15, so its members can vote by mail before the contract expires Dec. 1.
But if the Machinists have not returned to work, that vote will likely be pushed out.
“In all likelihood, if the IAM [International Association of Machinists]
The contract with the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace expires Dec. 1. Who’s covered in the Puget Sound area:
Represented workers: 11,850
Average age: 44
Average annual salary: $82,300
Represented workers: 5,700
Average age: 48
Average annual salary: $62,500
is still on strike, we would not lift the contract from the table,” Dugovich said. The union might even delay the main talks, he said.
Keeping any labor actions separate “minimizes management’s ability to whipsaw one union against another,” said Charles Bofferding, SPEEA executive director.
On health care, SPEEA wants medical premiums, deductibles and co-payments frozen at current levels.
The Machinists made similar demands, but Boeing said the status quo is untenable in the face of soaring health-care costs nationwide.
SPEEA wants higher salaries for its members because it says they now earn significantly less than their peers.
“Boeing’s the world leader in aerospace,” Dugovich said. “The employees that design and engineer those products deserve industry-leading salaries.”
Retirement is a concern for SPEEA, but it’s not the top priority that it is for Machinists. That may be because the average age of SPEEA members is 46, versus Machinists’ average age of 50.
SPEEA members now receive a pension of $60 per month for each year of service at the company.
The union wants to shift to Boeing’s Pension Value Plan (PVP), where the monthly benefit is calculated based on factors such as each employee’s salary, years of service and prevailing interest rates.
Most SPEEA members would do better under the PVP plan, Dugovich said, but the differences will vary.
“We’re asking for a very balanced contract from the company,” said Sharon Moats, chairwoman of SPEEA’s Puget Sound Technical Negotiation Team. “We hope delivering our proposals is the first step in win-win negotiations with Boeing.”
Boeing is entering negotiations in an “environment of respect,” company spokeswoman Debbie Nomaguchi said in an interview. “We are focused on working with SPEEA to reach a reasonable agreement that rewards employees for their contribution and reflects regional and industry markets for wages and benefits,” she said.
Bloomberg contributed to this report.