As we prepare to head off to the Paris Air Show, there have been a couple of important developments on the labor front with Boeing.
First, what we consider to be good news.
SPEEA, the engineers union representing Boeing workers primarily in Puget Sound but at a few Boeing facilities elsewhere, proposes entering binding arbitration on wages when contract negotiations begin next year. The contract is amendable at the end of 2012.
Boeing’s reaction is measured but encouraging:
“We are encouraged by this proposal and SPEEA’s offer for a dramatically changed way to negotiate a labor contract. We’ll need some time to review this proposal and engage in some serious internal discussions about it.
“We are in the process of setting up meetings with key SPEEA leaders to further discuss this concept.”
Now for the not-so-good news.
As entirely expected, the first day of the NLRB hearing on the IAM complaint that Boeing established 787 Line 2 in Charleston in retaliation for the 2008 strike was just procedural and didn’t go anywhere. The judge’s suggestion that the two sides settle their differences also went nowhere.
We’ve already expressed our view that the NLRB general counsel recommendations, and the IAM demands, are non-starters. Some other agreement is necessary to settle this matter, though we have no clue what might be acceptable to both sides.
Perhaps the IAM and Boeing should follow SPEEA’s lead and go with an arbitrator. We view settling this before the IAM contract negotiations begin next year to be imperative. Otherwise, this issue will cast a shadow over the negotiations that will only inflame things.