Leeham on-line poll: 61% expect no contract agreement with SPEEA, Boeing; 57% expect strike

We put two polls into the public domain this week, asking whether SPEEA and Boeing will reach an agreement next month; and if not, will SPEEA strike (a target date is Feb. 1).

The results are in: 61% expect no agreement when talks resume Jan. 9 and 57% expect SPEEA to strike. (These figures reflect results as of this writing. The data may change after this post because polling is still open.)

The percentages are a significant drop from the 96% vote that rejected the Boeing contract offer in October, but it should be noted there is no new offer on the table for SPEEA members to read and evaluate.

Additionally, this poll is of our readers and not specific to SPEEA.

Clearly the expectations are not good.

SPEEA’s executive director, Ray Goforth, is on record expecting talks to fail immediately when they resume because the gap between the union asks and the Boeing positions are so far apart. A strike vote will be solicited once talks break off.

Unlike the IAM 751, which requires a two-thirds affirmative vote for a strike, SPEEA requires only a simple majority.

“We have no specific target [for a strike vote] other than that,” Goforth tells us. ” SPEEA is a democratically run union.  Decisions are made by majority vote as supplemented by broad consultation with the membership (townhall type meetings, polls, feedback from the elected councils).
“In the run-up to the October 1st vote the Boeing management negotiating team confidently predicted that the contract would be adopted because they knew what the employees wanted better than the union,” Goforth wrote us.
“Today, we at hearing the same language from Boeing management.  Today, we are experiencing the same dismissiveness and disregard from Boeing management.
“Boeing management is still proposing across-the-board pay and benefit cuts for engineers and techs while increasing compensation for themselves and the shareholders.  We expect any such proposal to be rejected by the membership.”

Boeing, SPEEA talks take a turn for the worse

Labor contract negotiations between Boeing and SPEEA took a turn for the worse (and things were bad already) when Boeing asked for federal mediation.

If this request is granted, SPEEA won’t be able to strike while mediation is in process. Only after an impasse was declared by the Mediator, could SPEEA walk out (or conversely, Boeing could lock out the union).

If mediation is granted, Boeing buys an indefinite time during which aircraft deliveries was proceed more or less uninterrupted.

Update, 530 PST: Well, it seems our long history in the airline business got the better of us. In 20 years we never saw a strike happen until an impasse was declared in a mediation. As Nixon press secretary Ron Ziegler famously said, the statement above is “inoperative.”

SPEEA is already engaging in job action, refusing voluntary overtime and working to the rules. Look for this to expand.

The last time SPEEA struck for an extended period—40 days in 2000—Boeing deliveries for the year dropped by 50.

Negotiations update, Nov. 29, 2012 

 Boeing proposes mediation in SPEEA negotiations

 Today, the company responded to SPEEA’s counter proposal regarding wage increases, the Voluntary Investment Plan and the BCERP basic benefit. Because the differences between the parties are still significant, and this was clearly reinforced during today’s conversation, the company proposed that a federal mediator meet with the Boeing and SPEEA teams. We hope the expertise of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service can help move the two sides toward a resolution.

 During today’s session, we explained the salary increase pools proposed by SPEEA for both the professional and technical units of 6 percent a year for three years would move the salaries of our employees above the Puget Sound market. We also pointed out that SPEEA’s proposal to allocate two-thirds of the salary pool to all engineers and techs significantly slows the salary growth of top performing engineers and techs.

 We explained that our Voluntary Investment Plan company match of 75 percent of the first 8 percent employees contribute is already market leading when compared with our aerospace peer companies. SPEEA proposed a company match of 75 percent of the first 10 percent.

 Finally, we explained that the company’s proposal to increase the BCERP basic benefit each year over a four year contract to $85, $87, $89 and $91 keeps the plan market leading. SPEEA proposed to increase the basic benefit each year over a three year contract to $87, $93 and $99. The vast majority of SPEEA-represented employees retire under the pay-based benefit which will continue to go up with pay increases, including EIP, and will make an already market-leading plan even better. 

 The intent of our proposal is to improve upon a total compensation package that already leads the market. The question is — how far can the package exceed the market while we remain competitive as a business for the long term.

 We encourage you to log on to the negotiations website to see regular updates where you’ll also find the Pay & Benefits Estimator. The Estimator shows how the company’s offer will affect you personally.

And the SPEEA message:

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