SPEEA, Boeing talks go downhill

Talks didn’t exactly break off between Boeing and its engineers’ union, but by all appearances, it seems pretty close to doing so.

The two sides are to meet next week, but SPEEA put out this press release today:

The Boeing Company today presented a partially modified offer to our Prof and Tech Negotiation teams, but was unwilling to provide our team with a complete document.  The pieces provided indicate smaller wage and Ed Wells training program cuts than previously proposed.  Verbally, the company indicated that they still intend medical cost increases, elimination of the pension for future hires and reduction of growth in retirement benefits for the existing 23,000 engineers and technical workers. 

In a departure from long standing practice, Boeing refused to provide the offer electronically today, but indicated they will do so next week.  Working through federal mediators, the company said it needed four days to assemble all the pieces of its offer into a complete document.

While refusing to provide the complete offer to SPEEA, Boeing rejected our request that the parties work privately through the mediators rather than negotiating publicly.  The company indicated that they intend to try and bypass the negotiating team by “selling” the offer directly to members.  Boeing has already launched an aggressive public relations campaign claiming that Boeing corporate’s proposed cuts are actually “improvements.” Members are encouraged to watch the special 18-minute “Trust Me” video posted on the SPEEA website at www.speea.org.

“It was profoundly disappointing that Boeing corporate yet again gave us mere pieces of an offer and refused to provide it electronically” said Ryan Rule, Professional Team member.  “As members may recall, we found numerous take-a ways in the last company offer which they hadn’t bothered to flag as changes.  This incoherence in corporate contract configuration control is baffling.”

“It’s difficult to understand how Boeing corporate can legitimately claim that they need four days to print out their offer or put that same offer on a flash drive for our negotiating teams,” said Sandy Hastings, Technical Team member. “What are they trying to hide?”

While the major cuts and take a-ways are readily apparent, based on the number of items Boeing hid without mentioning in its first offers, our teams and SPEEA staff know they need to be able to review the company offer line-by-line in order to provide a comprehensive assessment to the membership.  The company’s inexplicable delay in providing their full offer prevents a comprehensive analysis.

Support for the SPEEA negotiations continues to grow.

Addressing the SPEEA Council Thursday, IFPTE President Greg Junemann said to remember that Boeing tried to push SPEEA members to accept cuts and take-a ways in 2000.

“Your negotiating teams’ focus is negotiating a contract that respects your contributions without going out on strike,” Junemann said. “But, the folks in Chicago need to hear this loud and clear: If they provoke a strike by SPEEA again, all of IFPTE, and a whole lot of the labor movement, is ready to show them again that engineers and technical workers deserve respect and their fair share of this company’s remarkable success.”

Negotiations are scheduled to resume at 1 p.m., Wednesday, January 16.

Prof and Tech Negotiation Team members encourage members to talk to co-workers, send comments to management and maintain workplace visibility with desk tents and activities. New video messages and a contract offer section are on the website.

Boeing issued this press release (caught up, for some reason, in our spam filter at first):

Today, Boeing presented a revised contract offer to SPEEA featuring increased salary pools for both engineers and technical employees.

Profs would see salary pools of 5 percent during the first two years of the contract and 4 percent in the last two years. Techs would see salary pools of 4 percent annually for the duration of the contract, with an additional lump sum payment equaling 1 percent of their salary in years one and two.

Under this revised offer, profs would average $85,600 in additional pay and performance-based incentive payments (EIP) over the life of the agreement. Techs would average $61,200 in additional pay and incentive payments.

Our proposals on health care (Washington, Oregon, California and Utah) and retirement remain unchanged from our pre-Thanksgiving offer.

Throughout these negotiations, our goal has remained the same — a market-leading contract that rewards employees while keeping the company and workforce competitive for future work. We’ve worked to resolve our differences with the SPEEA negotiations team, withdrawing many proposals that were important to the company. Since our initial offer back in September, we’ve shown considerable movement by increasing our salary proposal twice and revising our medical proposal to lower paycheck contributions. 

We encourage you to visit the negotiations website where you’ll find new fact sheets with all the details of the new offer, as well as an updated Pay & Benefits Estimator that shows what the offer means to you.

Boeing and SPEEA’s negotiations teams have agreed to continue discussions next Wednesday.

Boeing also held a teleconference. We missed the live but will dial into the replay when we can. We’ll also link any news stories we see for the Boeing side of the story.

SPEEA had expected to go for a strike vote next week, but without a formal offer, one can’t be held. Thus, any potential strike–which had a target date of Feb. 1–gets pushed to the right.

Federal 787 review adds new dimension to Boeing-SPEEA talks

The formal Federal Aviation Administration review adds a new dimension to the stalled contract talks between Boeing and its engineers’ union, SPEEA.

Talks Thursday didn’t go well, with SPEEA issuing a short press release laste yesterday afternoon:

SPEEA negotiations with The Boeing Company continued Thursday with little progress on key issues.

Our teams reminded Boeing that with record profits, a completely funded pension, 4,200 airplanes on backorder and $20 billion of cash on hand, it doesn’t make sense to cut wage growth, cut pension growth, eliminate the pension for future hires and raise medical costs for everyone.

Signifying the importance of our efforts to secure a respectful contract with Boeing, IFPTE President Greg Junemann, visited the teams at the hotel and then attended today’s SPEEA Council meeting to reiterate the support of our international union.

Negotiations are scheduled to resume at 9 a.m., Friday.

Boeing’s press release was even more terse:

For the second day in a row, negotiations teams from Boeing and SPEEA held contract talks with the assistance of federal mediators.

The mediators adjourned the meeting late this afternoon. Talks will continue Friday morning.

Boeing will have to rely on its engineers to sort through the review of the electrical system, which has now had four or five glitches, including the well-publicized fire in Boston on a Japan Air Lines 787.

With contract talks going nowhere fast, the prospects of a total breakdown in talks appears more and more likely, perhaps as soon as today. If this happens, look for a strike voted early next week. A walk-out could occur in early February.

If a strike happens, work by SPEEA engines on any 787 system review will stop or at the very least slow to a crawl. Boeing will have to rely on out-sourced engineers, if this is feasible. Engineers at the subcontractors responsible for the systems obviously would continue work, but at best the system review will be complicated by a SPEEA strike.

Clearly, the latest 787 problems add headaches to the contract talks that aren’t needed.

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.”