SPEEA and Boeing: the next round

The Seattle Times has this story about the latest developments in the contract negotiations between SPEEA and Boeing. The Everett Herald has this story. Note the discussion of moving jobs in The Times story and note what we said in The Herald story.

It strikes us that Boeing may not have learned anything from the outsourcing dispute in the IAM NLRB dispute. We told a Boeing communications person during the discussions about where to put 787 Line 2 that all the focus on the union and strikes was a bad idea and that a good reason to locate a line elsewhere was to diversify from the natural disaster risk. The response to us then was “that wouldn’t be true.”

Now Boeing is openly saying once again it will move jobs if it doesn’t get the labor contract it wants. What is it thinking??? You can move jobs because Washington State can’t fill them and there’s nothing that anyone can argue with about that.

This is another head-shaking moment of bewilderment in Boeing management strategy.

Update: Boeing’s Doug Alder sent us this statement:

“Boeing has made no threats to move work. We have simply noted our ability to use the full resources of the company in order to stay competitive. We’re confident we can reach an agreement with SPEEA that benefits the company and our workforce.”

26 Comments on “SPEEA and Boeing: the next round

  1. Scott, Do you think that any of the Senior Executives at Boeing read your postings?

    The issue of the number of available engineers in America is a legitimate concern. With such a high rate of retirement facing SPEEA membership, it is something that has to be considered when making decisions about the timing of projects.

    • We don’t know how high up we’re read but we do know we are followed by Corp Com in Seattle and Chicago. What they do with it is another matter.

  2. YIKES- I just read the Times-SPEEA article this AM. Its not only Boeing that seems to be rudderless. For whatever reason, the SPEEA Negotiation Team(s) Prof and Tech have defaulted to allow Goforth and McCarty to supposedly speak for the teams. Earlier, with nobody at home, they allowed the Assistant executive Director ( or maybe didn’t know ) to send a letter to Boeing about contract termination dates. Virtually none of the above actions seem to fit or be in accordance the Governing Documents which apply.

    Ditto for a lot of the so called numbers regarding average pay, changes in pension, etc.

    Some of the number errors could be considered trival, such as number of feepayers plus members, and some not so trivial.

    For example – When one goes to the DOL site and looks up the real numbers of members the totals are 21807 members plus 1339 feepayers. religious objectors are not counted for DOL since they pay no fees to SPEEA, but there are about 250. so this gets one to 23,400 as of march 31 2012.

    When bouncing these numbers against the claimede average pay – the figuresw simply do not match. maybe not a big deal- but it confuses the members and press no end

    Now when one applies an analysis of the pension gains and losses, the picture gets more murky, and when one tries to parse the statements- its like watching abbot and costello and the ‘ whose on first ‘ routine .

    Both from SPEEA and Boeing sides.

    IMO this does NOT bode well

    • Don, Looks like neither party gets it right from your point of view or , at least, no one escapes your watchful eye for their misbehaviour….and there seems to be enough of that to go around making facts murky and prospects for reolution more uncertain. In addition you are quick to criticize the Governance of SPEEA as well as describing Boeing’s negotiating team as just puppets for Chicago. Furthermore, there are factors that no one refers to such as WARN notices and Election influence so that what appears on the surface is really controlled by things a few levels below and each side is “rudderless”.

      You make it sound chaotic and infer this will probably lead to a good chance of a strike.

      So what improves the possibilities of settlement. Back door negotiations among more sensible types or threats around the Holiday Season that brings people together to share some Peace and Good Will.

      I still believe that once the rituals of “warfare” have been spent, people of good sense overcome their “madness” and search for some satisfaction that will bring productivity back to the workplace. It will be interesting to read your comments as this contest moves towards a resolution.

      • As to BA continuing to try to sandbag retirees- medical and then saying oops – we did not intend to . . . .


        A bit of history on word games by Boeing

        Yep – BA managed to slip it to another union back in 2006 – and they will continue to try try try again

        Unless you believe the ‘ do not intend ‘ PR

        The following is from the annual report for 2010 ( AKA 10_K form )

        Employees- retirees – seldom win in Illinois courts –

        All the more reason to make sure the company does not make an end around run via obscure wording in Plan documents.

        Which is why those nearing retirement should get a copy of the LEGAL Plan documents thru the UNION

        Its your benefits folks !

        from the annual report . .

        On September 13, 2006, two UAW Local 1069 retirees filed a class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee alleging that recently announced changes to medical plans for retirees of UAW Local 1069 constituted a breach of collective bargaining agreements under §301 of the LMRA and §502(a)(1)(B) of ERISA.

        On September 15, 2006, we filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois against the International UAW and two retiree medical plan participants seeking a declaratory judgment confirming that we have the legal right to make changes to these medical benefits.

        On June 4, 2007, the Middle District of Tennessee ordered that its case be transferred to the Northern District of Illinois. The two cases were consolidated on September 24, 2007. On January 17, 2008, the court granted the UAW’s motion to amend the complaint to drop the retirees’ claim for vested lifetime benefits based on successive collective bargaining agreements and instead allege that the current collective bargaining agreement is the sole alleged source of rights to retiree medical benefits.

        Both parties filed Motions for Class Certification on November 16, 2007 and filed briefs on class certification on February 28, 2008. The parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment on May 27, 2008. On September 30, 2008, the court certified a class of retirees for all claims.

        *****On September 9, 2009, the court granted Boeing’s motion and ruled that the retiree medical benefits were not vested lifetime benefits and that the 2006 changes to benefits did not violate the 2005 collective bargaining agreement. ***** On October 8, 2009, the plaintiffs filed a notice of appeal to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals.

        DONT TRUST – VERIFY – IN WRITING- ITS CALLED A CONTRACT. Which is only as good as those signing it.

  3. As everyone here knows, I am not a union supporter and I am very pro-Boeing. But I also believe that the last thing Boeing needs is any possiblility of a strike now, or in the near future. That is not to say SPEEA has any type of advantage over the company, far from it. The union has to recongnise the reality that in order for them to be reasonably secure in the future they must accept the reality that Boeing must remain competitive in the market place.

  4. “That is not to say SPEEA has any type of advantage over the company, far from it.”

    If you’re aware of everything going on within the company right now, then you know that statement is patently false. This would be a very bad time for the company to do something foolish that leads to a strike. In fact, a few weeks ago during a meeting with SPEEA’s negotiating teams a member of Boeing’s negotiating team made the statement that, “You guys have a lot of leverage.” Yes, we do.

    Mig Killer

  5. One day in the western world unions will be viewed as what caused to final collapse of the economy, in this global world it is really a cut throat race between nations or states to offer cheap or flexible labour laws. Soon the last industrial base will leave Sweden, great future we seem to have..

    As a westerner we have to accept to adapt to a less comfortable life or be out of the game. Look at California, what aviatiin industry is left there now? Are they really better off?

    • Yeah, right!

      Fast Forward: Growing Good Jobs – Cunliffe

      I have just returned from Denmark and Finland, and I am convinced there are lessons for us all in how these Scandinavian countries run their economies. In particular, we need to take note of why the Scandinavian countries are slowly winning while many other European countries are rapidly losing.

      Let’s take a quick look at the ‘Scandinavian model.’

      The ‘Scandinavian model’ isn’t really Scandinavian at all. It could also be called the traditional New Zealand model. A model based on the idea that the economy is like a farm or garden. If you want a garden to grow, then you have to dig the soil and plant the seeds. You have to feed and nurture the plants and you have deal to the weeds when they grow up amongst the crop.

      If this sounds like simple common sense: it is.

      Any farmer will tell you that you get back from a farm what you put in. If you let weeds grow, you get a farm full of weeds. If you nurture your soil, livestock and crops, you have a good chance of a healthy farm, and a healthy return on your investment.

      Which countries are currently surviving the recession best? The ones with the Scandinavian economic model.

      According to Neo-Liberal economic theory, the Scandinavian countries should have collapsed by now. After all, they have large numbers of public employees on decent wages. Large trade unions. Very high taxation. A huge amount of government spending. I’m not arguing for a carbon-copy, but it has worked for them.

      While the Neo-Liberals in America, Britain and New Zealand have been targeting those on welfare, blaming them for the world’s problems, the Scandinavian countries have been doing the opposite. That is, they’ve been helping those on welfare to get jobs, not blaming them for being poor.

      After taking a big hit from the global financial crisis in 2009, the Scandinavian economies have bounced back strongly, while most of the rest of Europe seems stuck in reverse.

      What’s the Scandinavian secret? The Scandinavian people have mastered the art of win-win.

      For example, on my recent visit, I saw the Danish approach to economic development.

      Denmark doesn’t tell its businesspeople what to do. Instead, Denmark sees its businesspeople as partners. The Danish government sits down with its key business groups. The two sides plan a workable strategy. After listening to its voters, workers and business partners, the Danish government doesn’t muck around. Incentives, sector plans, skills training, research and development, industry investment, targets and timetables are all actively used to get the economy moving and to keep it moving.

      There is real symbiosis; it’s a win-win partnership, and the whole country benefits.

      No surprise then, that Finland and Sweden came third and fourth respectively in the latest World Economic Forum competitiveness survey.[iii]

      This competitiveness is driven by a government that understands how to invest in its people. According to the World Economic Forum, the key to the Scandinavians’ success is largely the result of a high level investment by the government and industry in education and training.[iv] The Scandinavians understand that ignorance is poison.

      The Scandinavians know they cannot compete with China for low labour costs. They don’t bother to try. Instead, the Scandinavians have learned the value of working smarter instead of merely working harder.

      Scandinavian bosses and workers don’t see each other as natural enemies. They may not always get along and they may not always agree, but they understand clearly that bosses and workers need each other.

      I wish our government understood this.

        • I don’t think so.
          By describing what works well the article pretty much summs up why the industrial background in the US appears broken.
          The US model is similar to grazing an area into oblivion and than having to move onwards.
          Lack of “farming” mindset and the throes of distribution warfare.

  6. http://www.denverpost.com/business/ci_16067790

    naw it wasn’t unions –

    After the Cold War ended two decades ago, military budgets were slashed. The excess capacity in the defense industry resulted in a barrage of mergers.

    In 1993, then-Deputy Defense Secretary William Perry held the so-called “last supper” and warned the defense industry’s top suppliers that the budget was going to shrink and that consolidation was essential to their survival.

    Boeing and Northrop are the nation’s second- and third-largest defense contractors, behind Lockheed Martin. A merger would put about half of defense work with one giant company, said Rick Phillips, managing director at Janes Capital Partners, an Irvine, Calif., aerospace and defense investment bank.

    In addition, the deal might not be so attractive to Northrop and its new chief executive, Wesley G. Bush, who took over in January. Bush is reorganizing the company.

    Bush has cut some of Northrop’s top executives and has said the company would consider abandoning its $6 billion-a-year shipbuilding business.

  7. From this perspective it’s good that governments keep partial control of EADS/Airbus, the need to not to anger voters dampens management appetite for pointless fights with employees.

    • The job of a government is to aid the sovereign ( in a democracy the population as a whole ).
      Grooming industry is part of that activity: Restraining profiteers another one.

      The neoliberal view tries to establish government as just a profit enabler for the wealthy.
      This does not fit the label “Democracy”.

      • What my point was about is that people in the western world need to wake up and smell the coffee. A lot already have, those who jobs got outsourced. We cant keep thinking we live in a isolated world, in the end powerful unions can bring corporations down. If all lose are we better off? China and India wont give a crap about its workers.

        Even modern jobs move away like IT and callcenters. How can we have 20 times the vages of the competing world? How long? EU and USA are broke already. Yeah hit them hard SPEEA!

  8. en590swe :
    i… in the end powerful unions can bring corporations down..

    … Yeah hit them hard SPEEA!

    Your language forms your thinking.

    Thinking in terms of war like killing limits your options.
    The corporation — union relationship should be predominantly about cooperation and not conflict where one side must win and the other lose..

    • I am also struck by Labor Language usage of the term “disrespect” . If there are any disagreements over proposals they are immediately characterized as “disrespectful”. That term alone provokes anger as is used to inflame the dialogue.

      Unfortunately, these negotiations start out as discussions between unequals rather than as cooperation and resolution. They are inherently adversarial and the language and posture emphasizes this.

      It would be helpful if the parties were trained in conflict resolution but I think that by antagonizing the parties, there is the belief that this method forces an Agreement faster. There is guilt on both sides for fostering this.

      • I heard a very interesting analogy from a friend of a friend, WRT the previous contract. He explained it this way. You are going to sell your house, you have it appraised at 200K, you put it on the market for 210K. Then somebody comes in an offers you 70K for your house. Do you negotiate that? Or just reject the offer and move on?

        Companies get the unions they deserve. If they treat their employees fairly, like adults, they get fair and adult unions. If they treat them like children or worse vermin, they get militant unions.

        I said this before, and the comments bear out my statements. If you want to know why this is being managed so badly, just look at where Delaney comes from.

    • And did the strike in 2008 help Boeing in its struggle with the 787? I have had a union rep tell me that they rather see everyone get unemployed rather than give in on their demands. A friend of mine had a restaurant and one of the chefs was an alcoholic, the problems this created led to closure and 6 others got unemplyed, just because the union would not let them let this individual go. You can´t fire a drunk because he is in the union…

      I have never been in a union and never will be, I can speak for myself. And there are strict labour laws anyway.

  9. Is it logical workers unite to protect their families incomes?
    Yes, they might be toast if they don’t.

    Is it logical Boeing tries to reduce costs?
    Yes, they might be toast if they don’t.

    • That is the problem, we all want cheap goods, but at the same time a high salary, this will be increasingly conflicting the corporations goal of profit margins, if another nation or in US another state can help you save 10-15% on spending, having less stingent labour laws, why should you keep production in the more expensive and powerful union state/country?

      How many hundres of thousands or even millions of jobs have not moved away from the west already? I see a lot more conflicts going forward.

  10. Boeing playing hardball – from the speea site today

    October 8, 2012
    Negotiations Wednesday – Boeing charged with ULPs

    Prof and Tech negotiation teams scheduled the next meeting with Boeing for Wednesday (Oct. 10) as efforts continue to reach agreement on new contracts.

    The meeting is scheduled as SPEEA filed two Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charges against Boeing to protect members’ rights to engage in concerted activities to support our negotiation teams. The charges were filed Friday in the NLRB Seattle office after Boeing videotaped members during union activities. The company also seized a camera and deleted photos of the activities.

    The National Labor Relation Act (NLRA) protects employees’ rights to engage in these concerted (union) activities and prohibits employers from interfering.

    “Taking video of employees on a lunchtime march is nothing more than intimidation and harassment,” said Ray Goforth, SPEEA executive director. “The company has no legitimate reason to confiscate cameras and delete photos.”

    Marches ranged from a few dozen employees to more than 2,500 at the Everett plant. SPEEA continues to gather information about the surveillance and photo seizing and is asking members to document and report incidents to SPEEA staffer Carrie Blackwood at: carrieb@speea.org.

    Filed at the Seattle office of the NLRB, the first Unfair Labor Practice charge reads: “…the Employer has engaged in surveillance of protected concerted activity and has otherwise interfered with that activity by videotaping and photographing employees engaged in peaceful, protected concerted activity in Portland, OR.”

    The second charge reads: “… the Employer has interfered with members engaging in protected concerted activity by confiscating photographs taken by employees of other employees engaging in protected concerted activity.”

    Wednesday’s negotiations meeting is expected to be more extensive than the short meeting held last week after the overwhelming rejections of Boeing’s contract offers.


    FWIW BA *may* have a ligitimate issue regarding use of personl cameras on company property. But they are SOL if they videotape union activity during lunchhours.

    They are NOT supposed to ‘ spy ” on or appear to spy on union members, etc absent reasonable reason to document possible illegal activity such as theft- etc

    And in this state – audio recordings have very tight restraints- especially along with video . .

    But what else would one expect from the GE-Jack welch crowd

    • This sounds like another tactic to accomplish a complaint before the NLRB and characterize behaviour as Unfair Labor Practices and bring publicity and tension to the ongoing negotiations.

      Boeing clearly understands the freedom of workers to conduct Union activity during lunch hours and does not practice heavy handed interference. It is possible that a videotape was involved because of security reasons and the situation spun out of control. No one really knows what occurred or what was orchestrated.

      All of this is really unnecesary. What is important is what will take place in negotiations

    • It should be noted that marches and informational pickets have been going on for weeks at various Boeing locations including Boeing Corporate Headquarters in Seattle. Over 2500 marchers participated in Everett without any incidents. SPEEA has photographs of this on its webpage.

      To infer that Boeing has been heavy handed and interfered with these activities is just an exaggeration. The NLRB filing is just part of an ongoing process to heighten the tension of the negotiations and paint a picture of an oppressive Company. Supposedly, this fires up the Members and is supposed to intimidate the negotiating team.

  11. I would suggest that just reading the papers and looking at the website reveals very little of what really happened , how it happened, and to whom it happened. It is further clouded by a lack of understanding as to whom can file and how an ULP or similar is filed with the NLRB

    Both Boeing and SPEEA have leadership problems, and both sides have people who are clueless as to company and or union procedures.

    generally – photos IN the factory are verboten – but in the parking lot ?

    used to be one needed a seperate camera which could easily be identified

    now of course – video survelience and cellphones are commonplace

    Wait a few days – go to the NLRB site and search on Boeing and SPEEA and find out just what was claimed, and by whom. Filings are by design very brief- one must wait until the NLRB decides to accept or reject- and that after both sides have a chance to present testimony and evidence, which may or may not be made public pending a dismissal or ruling.

    meanwhile -Why not sit back- relax, and watch the blinking lights

    • Don,
      Its not worth the trouble…its just a sideshow and an irrelevant one at that.

      By your previous posts you indicated that there would be no resolution until the Election was over ( Looks like Romney is already promising the Navy a new Fleet)…and both the SPEEA Boeing contest and the current Political Campaign are similar in their exaggerations and distortions. Will be a relief when they are over

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