Were they at the same meetings?

Boeing and SPEEA have two very different views of the progress of the bargaining to date and contract offer that was presented by Boeing to the engineers’ union Thursday.

The SPEEA contract expires December 1. Many of the contract provisions proposed by Boeing are similar to those offered to the IAM, which rejected the Boeing contract and struck for 58 days. SPEEA said that if it strikes, one will come in January or February, just about the time Boeing returns to pre-IAM strike production levels.

Below is the Boeing communique issued by chief negotiation Doug Kight; the SPEEA response follows. (We can’t do anything about the type size differences–there is no hidden meaning in the different sizes in the following messages.)

SPEEA negotiations update – Nov. 6, 2008

Today, Boeing presented SPEEA with updated contract provisions on non-Boeing labor and presented initial economic offers for engineering and technical employees concerning benefits and compensation.

The proposal on non-Boeing labor, which incorporated key contributions from SPEEA, has made significant progress toward agreement in recent days.

We presented our first economic offer, which included pay increases over each year of the contracts through an annual salary adjustment fund, pension increases and enhanced health care coverage with slight cost increases.

It’s expected that SPEEA and Boeing will exchange offers and counteroffers as we work toward concluding contract negotiations next week. This will give SPEEA time to mail ballots, as per its standard process, so employees can vote on the final contract offers.

As in previous negotiations with SPEEA, we don’t intend to release the details of the first offers or the subsequent exchanges. SPEEA seemed to appreciate some of the proposals we presented at the meeting and said they would make counterproposals on others.

I’d like to summarize progress made in today’s talks and outline the company’s thinking on key issues.

Non-Boeing labor

After several days of back-and-forth on critical provisions of the contract around non-Boeing labor, the company and SPEEA seem to be converging on acceptable contract language that addresses the union’s desire for a dialog in the process and Boeing’s need to retain the flexibility it needs to run its business. The union expressed appreciation for the progress made on the issue.

Health care and retirement benefits

Our health care proposal provides outstanding coverage at lower costs to employees than most other large companies offer. Boeing has identified a zero-payroll-deduction plan for the duration of the contract.

We also offered to enhance benefits with an emphasis on wellness and preventive care as a way to keep employees and their families healthy as well as reduce Boeing’s health care expenditures over the long run. While Boeing intends to absorb the majority of the additional costs from these enhancements, we have proposed slight increases to what employees will pay.

We’re proposing to increase the basic monthly pension benefit for current employees. For individuals hired on or after Jan. 1, 2009, we’re proposing a defined contribution retirement plan rather than the traditional defined benefit pension plan. This is the same plan that the company recently introduced for all newly hired salaried employees, including executives. For more information, read the Comparing Retirement Programs fact sheet.

Pay and incentives

Our overall compensation philosophy is to provide salaries that are competitive within the market for employees with the wide range of skills the company needs, thus attracting and retaining talented employees.

Boeing’s offer to SPEEA supports this compensation strategy. In an industry where attrition rates typically are around 4 percent, our attrition is about one-quarter better than the average, or approximately 3 percent. Excluding retirements, Boeing’s overall attrition is about 2 percent.

Our initial offer includes salary adjustment funds – for both the Professional and Technical units – in each year of the contract. Salaries are adjusted after employees go through the annual performance management process.

In addition, SPEEA-represented employees will continue to participate in the Employee Incentive Plan.

Negotiations will continue tomorrow.

Actions for managers:

· Please share and discuss this information about this initial offer with your employees. Ensure that they understand that this is the initial offer, and that Boeing and SPEEA are expected to exchange proposals over the next few days.

· Review a fact sheet on Comparing Retirement Programs as well as existing fact sheets available on our Web site. You can print out the fact sheets and use them as a tool in discussions with your team.

· If you haven’t already, sign up for alerts to be notified when updates are made to our Web site.

This offer is an essential step in this give-and-take negotiating process. As we continue our discussions with SPEEA, we are working towards our goal of final contract offers that reward our engineering and technical employees for the amazing work that they do every day and ensure that Boeing continues to be on the cutting edge of innovation.

Thank you for your tremendous support of this process.


SPEEA’s response:

SPEEA disappointed by Boeing’s initial responses to contract proposals

SEATTLE – After delaying responses to key union proposals for two months, The Boeing Company on Thursday presented what company negotiators called a “first, full offer” for new three year-contracts covering 20,474 engineers and technical workers. Union leaders called the response incomplete and disappointing.

The company’s response to proposals made by the Society of Professional Engineering Employees (SPEEA), IFPTE, Local 2001, leaves large gaps between Boeing and what is needed by employees who engineer and design the world’s most advanced aerospace products, said SPEEA Executive Director and Chief Spokesperson Ray Goforth.

“We’ve been waiting for a response from the company for more than two months and what we received today is disappointing,” said Goforth. “It is clear difficult talks remain.”

The company’s response included a high-level outline of medical plan changes. More detail was provided in response to the union’s wage proposals. SPEEA negotiators are reviewing the nearly 100 pages of documents passed to them by Boeing negotiators in preparation of presenting counter proposals Friday.

SPEEA delivered a complete proposal to Boeing in September after nearly six months of negotiating in committees. Main Table negotiations between the union and Boeing started Oct. 29. The company delayed the start one day to settle the strike by 27,000 machinists.

“It’s concerning that Boeing continues to point to an artificial deadline of completing talks next week,” said Goforth. “We are prepared to keep negotiating until we have a deal for our members.”

Boeing remains determined to change SPEEA contracts in several areas that union members oppose. The company continues to press for removing Utah engineers from the Professional contract, eliminating the defined benefit pension for new employees, shifting more healthcare costs onto employees and continuing the outsourcing of engineering and design work to suppliers, contractors and overseas companies.

Boeing’s own data shows many union members are paid below average wages for the aerospace industry. Union officials said that for Boeing to remain a market leading company, it must pay industry leading wages. Contract improvements sought by the union also include increasing vacation to industry standards and for the company to follow the example of Airbus North America and honor Martin Luther King Day as a paid holiday.

“If Boeing is looking for a different process to reach agreements with unions without going through a strike, as CEO Jim McNerney said this week, making an offer that completely misses the interests of our members is not that process,” said Alan Rice, chair of the SPEEA Technical Negotiation Team.

SPEEA has called a strike at Boeing twice since organizing in 1946. The first was a one-day strike on January 19, 1993. The second was a 40-day strike that stopped delivers, customer service, engineering and technical work at Boeing from Feb. 9 to March 20, 2000.

Negotiations involve two union contracts. The first covers 13,898 engineers and a second contract for 6,576 technical workers. While the majority of workers are in the Puget Sound region, the contracts cover some employees in Oregon, Utah and California. Both contracts expire Dec. 1.

Negotiations for 700 engineers at Boeing Wichita start Nov. 13. The Wichita contract expires Dec. 5.

A local of the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (IFPTE), SPEEA represents more than 24,474 aerospace professionals at Boeing, Spirit AeroSystems in Wichita, Kan., Triumph Composite Systems, Inc., in Spokane, Wash., and at BAE Systems, Inc., in Irving, Texas.

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