Pacific Northwest Compiled from Seattle Times business staff and The Associated Press ...

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Pacific Northwest

Boeing

WICHITA, Kan. — Dozens of former Boeing employees filed a federal lawsuit Monday against the aerospace giant and the buyers of its commercial aircraft operations in Kansas and Oklahoma, alleging age discrimination. The other named defendants are the Canadian firm Onex and its Wichita-based subsidiary, Spirit Aerosystems.

The defendants declined to comment.

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The workers are seeking their jobs back, along with unspecified compensatory damages and at least $1.5 billion in punitive damages.

The lawsuit filed in Wichita charges that after the sale, some workers were terminated just months or weeks before they would have been vested in their pensions and were replaced by younger workers.

Washington Mutual

Chicago agency wins ad account

Washington Mutual has hired Leo Burnett USA as its new primary advertising agency, an account worth more than $100 million a year. Washington Mutual had spent 14 years with Interpublic Group’s Sedgwick Rd. unit in Seattle.

Chicago-based Leo Burnett USA will work with Wolff Olins, which Washington Mutual recently hired as its brand agency.

Microsoft

Vista system adds security feature

Lost or stolen laptops may not be as much of a security risk if they’re running a high-end version of Windows Vista, the new operating system that Microsoft is releasing in the second half of 2006. Unfortunately, it’s too late for Boeing and the state of Washington, both of which recently lost computers containing sensitive personnel information.

The enterprise edition of Vista will have a feature called “BitLocker” that can encrypt systems that have an optional security chip.

The feature debuted Monday on a test version of Vista that Microsoft released to get feedback from software developers and customers.

“So essentially if a machine is lost … it renders it useless to whoever steals it or takes it from them,” said Shanen Boettcher, a senior director in the Windows group.

WashTech

Union to try again after Cingular loss

After organizing more than 900 local Cingular Wireless employees in November, the Washington Alliance of Technology Workers union was unsuccessful in a recent campaign.

During the past two months, the organization, also known as WashTech, tried to organize 124 local Cingular Wireless information-technology workers.

They were expected to vote by Sunday on whether to join the union. Marcus Courtney, president of the group, said they failed to gain a majority, but likely will try again next year.

The 925 Bothell customer-service reps who agreed to join the union in November represented the first time WashTech unionized a significant number of tech workers.

Compiled from Seattle Times business staff and The Associated Press