SPEEA Accepts Boeing contract

It’s over–for four years. From SPEEA:

SEATTLE – Technical workers at The Boeing Company have approved a new four-year contract, putting an end to negotiations that have lasted nearly one year.

Votes tallied Monday (March 18) by the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA), IFPTE Local 2001 show Technical workers voted 4,244 to accept and 654 to reject. Union negotiators told members a second rejection would likely result in a strike as Boeing was refusing to move on all issues.

Union members were voting on a contract offer that was identical to the offer the 7,191 Technical workers narrowly rejected and the larger Professional Unit of engineers narrowly accepted on Feb. 19. While engineers and technical workers bargain at the same time, the contracts are separate and independent agreements.

The new contract extends the terms of the previous contract, including 5% annual salary increase pools, no increases to employees for medical coverage and an increase to the retirement benefit. By the end of the new agreement, SPEEA represented technical workers, and also the engineers, will have received eight straight years of 5% salary increase pools, with guaranteed minimum wage increases each year of the contract.

The major area of contention during negotiations was the defined benefit retirement pension plan. While overwhelming member support and workplace action helped union negotiators continually get Boeing to improve most elements of the contract offer, the company steadfastly refused to move away from eliminating the pension for new technical workers hired after March 1, 2013. Like most new employees at Boeing, technical workers and engineers will now receive the company’s “enhanced 401(k)” and not the defined benefit pension.

SPEEA and Boeing started negotiations in April 2012. Technical workers have been without a contract since Nov. 25.

While the majority of covered employees are in the Puget Sound region of Washington state, these   contracts include employees in Oregon, Utah and California.

From Boeing’s Ray Conner:

Techs approve contract offer; SPEEA negotiations conclude


Tonight, technical workers represented by SPEEA approved Boeing’s contract offer, bringing to a close negotiations that formally began almost a year ago. In February, SPEEA-represented engineers approved the same offer which is now in place until October 2016.


We’re pleased to have settled a contract that rewards SPEEA-represented employees for their contributions to the company’s success while maintaining a superior package of retirement and health care benefits. The contract also establishes a new retirement savings plan for future new hires. The plan is market-leading among our peer companies in the aerospace industry and promotes our competitiveness going forward.


The votes by technical workers and engineers in recent weeks will allow us to come together and focus on the challenges and opportunities we face this year. We’re moving forward with an excellent team in place.



SPEEA contract vote results in: Split decision

Update, Feb 20: SPEEA issued corrected vote totals; see below.

If negotiations fail to reach a contract for the Technical unit and they were to strike, the Professional unit cannot strike but neither can they replaced the Techies. SPEEA says production would come to a halt in the event of a strike.

Original Post:

Here are the results:

18,043 votes cast.

Professional Group

Accept: 5,691 6,483

Reject: 4,810 5,514

Do Authorize Strike: 3,316 6,727

Do Not Authorize Strike, 2,586 5,249

Technical Group

Accept: 2,801 2,868

Reject: 3,014 3,203

Do Authorize Strike: 3,796 3,903

Do Not Authorize Strike: 2,098 2,165

The Tech group will return to the bargaining table in hopes of reaching a new agreement.

SPEEA-Boeing contract vote count underway-and we are there

It’s Tuesday evening, Feb. 19, and we are at SPEEA headquarters to watch the ballot counting on the contract vote offered by Boeing.

It’s 6:25pm and it’s too soon to spot a trend. However, as we watched the ballots separated from he envelopes were could see a lot of “Accepts” and a lot of “Rejects.” As can be expected, the Accepts do not approve of a strike authorization and those rejecting the contract OK a strike.

Final results aren’t expected until after 9pm. Stay tuned here for updates as well as on Twitter @leehamnews

6:45pm PST: Counting underway, tilt toward Accept at one table.

7:00pm PST: Can see several stations; it’s too close to call a trend.

7:15pm PST: As we scan the room at the counting tables we can see, it looks like this vote will be close. Caveat: we can only see perhaps 25% of the voting stations. Best we can see, it looks like the tilt is toward Accept. This is not at all like the IAM 751 vote in 2008, in which the Reject was obvious and clear early in the evening.

7:20pm PST: SPEEA reminds us there are two employee groups voting tonight, the Professional engineers and the Technical group. One group could Accept and one group could Reject. One could OK a strike, the the might not.

7:25pm PST: In response to Shuper, “Accept” or “Reject” refers to the contract itself. “Do” or “Do Not” Authorize a strike is the other vote. We’re not trying to identify the Do or Do Not because these are basically tracking Accept or Reject. There is no visual on ballots (as there was with the IAM): both questions are on the same ballot (they were separate at the IAM, so a visual card stacking was obvious). The votes are tallied by the old-fashioned five-count hash marks on a sheet of paper. That’s what we are spotting.

8:00pm PST: Kind of quiet. One Professional vote counter says his table is neck-and-neck. A Techie tells us his group tends to be more militant but he doesn’t have a feel for the vote.

8:15pm PST: A bit of a surprise: several vote counting stations appear to be done.

8:30pm PST: Results will be coming “soonish.”

9:00pm PST: SPEEA first told us 20-25 min, now saying 45-60 min.

Twitter: The Herald@EverettHerald

RT @chcktylr: For you engineers, that’s 79.17068889864% of membership. RT @sbhatt: 18,043 ballots cast in #speea vote on #boeing contract

9:15pm PST: While we are killing time here at SPEEA, there is speculation that the FAA may not approve the temporary fix of the 787 (no news there) and this means a full replacement of the battery design might take as long as 18-24 months. We don’t have enough data to give credence to this timeline but–if it were to be this long, the Airbus A350 might enter service before the 787 re-enters service. Think about that.

The results are here.

SPEEA vote due tomorrow

As if the Boeing 787 problems weren’t enough of a headache for the company, the second vote by its engineers will be counted tomorrow on a contract offer.

SPEEA members rejected the first contract offer from Boeing in October with a 96% vote. Boeing subsequently agreed to extend the current SPEEA contract provisions except for all issues related to the pension. The headline issue on this section is that Boeing wants to shift from a defined benefit retirement plan to a defined contribution plan. SPEEA says this results in a 40% reduction in benefits; Boeing says it’s less than that but still significant.

Boeing points out that all non-union employees are on a defined contribution plan and new hires for the unions should be, too. Current members would retain the defined benefit plan.

Boeing hopes this split approach will be enough to win approval for the new contract offer.

Also being voted on: whether members will grant SPEEA negotiations authorization to call a strike should the contract be rejected. Executive Director Ray Goforth has already said negotiators would not call an immediate strike, but they will seek a return to the bargaining table.

[Reuters has this article profiling Goforth.]

The hazard is that Boeing could withdraw its “Best and Final Offer” on all the other issues it agreed to and seek to renegotiate the entire contract rather than just the pension issues. Of course, this would incense union members and make a settlement ultimately that much more difficult.

Boeing needs the engineers to resolve the issues surrounding the 787, and to return the plane to service–the number one priority of 2013, says CEO Jim McNerney. The development programs of the 787-10 and 777X can wait (and, according to our information, these have been pushed to the right as a result of the 787 issues). Management’s lead engineer, Mike Delaney, basically said SPEEA members aren’t needed–that Boeing can rely on other engineers to resolve the 787 problems, a statement that went over like the proverbial screen door in a submarine.

In a webcast for SPEEA, Ray Conner, CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, played the patriotic card, according to those who listened to it, by saying a strike would hurt customers and aid Airbus. (Boeing traditionally doesn’t comment on internal employee communications.)

We think the vote will be close, though we don’t know how to define it other than we don’t expect margins to remotely reflect the 96% rejection last October or the 85% rejection by IAM 751 in 2006 (and a similar strike vote). As we’ve talked to people, the sentiment seemed fairly evenly split with a tilt toward rejection and a strike vote.

Unlike IAM 751, which needs a two-thirds vote to strike, SPEEA needs only 50% plus one.

Votes will be counted tomorrow, Feb. 19; results will be known tomorrow night.

Airbus may drop lithium batteries from A350; BCA CEO appeals to SPEEA members

Airbus may drop Lithium batteries: Bloomberg reports that Airbus may drop lithium ion batteries from the A350 in the wake of the problems encountered by Boeing. Reuters has this report.

A switch to standard batteries would delay the A350 program by a couple of months, reports Bloomberg–but another delay has been expected by customers anyway, who previously told us they believe the first delivery will be at the end of 2014 or early 2015 rather than the mid-2014 previously announced by Airbus.

Bombardier is using Nickel-Cadmium batteries for the CSeries.

Meantime, Boeing acknowledged the obvious: 787 deliveries will be delayed.

BCA CEO appeals to SPEEA: Ballots have gone out from SPEEA leaders to the membership recommending rejection of the Boeing contract offer and authorization for a strike. Boeing sent the following message to SPEEA members:

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SPEEA posts YouTube video; vows to return to table if Strike Authorization OK’d, contract rejected

SPEEA, the Boeing engineers’ union, posted a YouTube video this afternoon explaining why negotiators are recommending rejection of Boeing’s contract offer and why they are seeking a strike authorization vote.

If members side with the negotiators, SPEEA vows to return to the bargaining table under the supervision of a Mediator to try and reach an agreement before going out on strike. SPEEA says Boeing inserted a “poison pill” into its Best and Final Offer. Also focuses on what is called the Scrap the Cap issue.

SPEEA exec council votes to reject Boeing contract, seek strike authority

  1. @speea Tech Bargaining Unit Council votes UNANIMOUSLY to recommend that the membership REJECT Boeing’s contract offer.

  2. @speea Tech Bargaining Unit Council votes UNANIMOUSLY to submit strike authorization ballot to the membership.

    Tweets from 15 minutes ago……

Odds and Ends: 787 Update; SPEEA Council meets for membership vote; Asian caution

787 Update: The Wall Street Journal has this lengthy article on the twin-investigations of the US and Japanese authorities into the Boeing 787 incidents. (Subscription required.) Bloomberg News this long article profiling Boeing CEO Jim McNerney’s oversight of the Boeing probe. The Seattle Times has this article about the probe.

This story takes a different angle on the 787 challenges, focusing instead on the coming shortage of engineers.

SPEEA Council Meets Today: The top officials of SPEEA, Boeing’s engineers’ union, meets today to decide on sending the Best and Final Boeing offer to members for a vote to approve or disapprove the contract. A strike vote is also likely to be included.

Caution on Asian Airlines: Germany’s DVB Bank, a major player in commercial aerospace financing and analysis, raises caution about the growth plans of the new Asian airlines, according to this article by Reuters.

American logo reaction mixed: Forbes has this story about the new American Airlines livery, quoting a number of design professionals. This link has a number of suggestions, almost of which which we like better than the tail paint American purchased for God knows how much money.

Our thoughts on the Boeing-SPEEA “Best and Final” offers

For a few short moments we thought there were offers close enough to be reasonable middle ground to head off a strike between Boeing and its engineers’ union, SPEEA.

We’re looking at this from afar, figuratively and literally–we’re 5,000 miles from Seattle on our European, multi-stop trip. We don’t have access to the so-called “red line” contract proposals and, frankly, don’t have the time to read them even if we did. So to a large degree we’re reacting to press releases.

With these caveats, here’s our take:

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