The six-year contract agreement between Boeing and SPEEA is a windfall for the economy and people of Western Washington. It is an example worth emulating.
THE surprise, six-year contract agreement announced last week between Boeing and the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA) signals a promising turn in a historically acrimonious relationship.
The news is a windfall for the economy and people of Western Washington.
The deal, which still needs to be ratified by the union’s 21,000 members in February, locks in an average 5 percent annual increase in compensation over five years. In 2022, the final contract year, SPEEA members would see a 4.5 percent boost. As The Times’ Dominic Gates reports, the deal largely maintains the increase from the existing contract for six more years.
There are SPEEA concessions, including a freeze on traditional pensions beginning in 2019. In contrast to the eight-year Machinists contract, however, SPEEA members would see an increase based on their final, pre-retirement earnings. Boeing also would hike its 401(k) contribution and help SPEEA members whose jobs are moved.
The willingness of negotiators to find common cause, months before the October contract deadline, belies recent history. The SPEEA strike of 2000, which lasted 40 days and enshrined the union mantra of “no nerds, no birds!” threatened aircraft production and company stock price. Negotiations in 2013 left SPEEA battered, and the subsequent transfers of engineering jobs looked a lot like Boeing payback.
The job shuffling, whatever the motivation, has had unintended consequences. Rep. June Robinson, D-Everett, recently reintroduced her ill-advised bill that links Boeing’s $8.7 billion tax break to the size of the company’s Washington workforce.
Feelings die hard.
A well-educated workforce requires a just, sustainable income. And a 21st-century company demands predictability, while continuing to innovate. Somehow SPEEA and Boeing managed both.
The kumbaya (for now) is an example worth emulating.