SPEEA, the engineers union for The Boeing Co., rejected the company’s proposed contract Monday by a 96% vote margin. The Seattle Times has this story.
Boeing issued this statement:
The SPEEA negotiations team notified Boeing that SPEEA’s membership rejected Boeing’s initial contract proposal. Our focus now is on resuming discussions on October 2 with your negotiations team.
In the spirit of good faith, we will continue to listen closely to your negotiations team. We want to understand your viewpoints and objections, which is what the bargaining process is all about. As was true when we made our initial proposal – we are committed to continuing discussions, answering questions and considering any proposals or counter-proposals from your negotiations team.
While Oct. 6 is the expiration date of the contract, it remains in effect until Nov. 25, 2012. On Nov. 25, the contract will terminate as a result of SPEEA filing a 60-day termination notice per Article 23 of the contract. No strike can take place until after Nov. 25.
We will continue to provide updates on the progress of negotiations and encourage you to check the negotiations website on a regular basis.
We expect the negotiations, which commence at 1pm today, to be difficult. Boeing is determined to reduce health care and pension costs; SPEEA is determined to prevent higher cost sharing on heath care premiums and shifting new employees from a defined pension plan to a 401(K) plan. Boeing offered raises of 2.5% to 3% and the union wants 5%. But, as The Times story notes, the big sticking point right now seems to be the union’s assertion that Boeing has language in the proposed contract that will allow the company to unilaterally change terms and conditions at a later date, particularly for current retirees on health care. Boeing says it has “no plans” to do so, which SPEEA labeled weasel words.
Boeing threatens to move engineering jobs out of Puget Sound (30% of engineering is already outside of the Seattle area), but SPEEA claims Boeing’s defense unit is already doing so.
Although there are no sanctioned job actions by members, there have been reports of work slow-downs. We expect these actions to increase.
The last time SPEEA struck, in 2000 for 40 days, Boeing’s deliveries dropped by 50 aircraft.