Muilenburg’s blessing on process cleared way for SPEEA contract

Dennis Muilenburg

Dennis Muilenburg, CEO, The Boeing Co.

Jan. 14, 2016: (c) Leeham Co. Blessing a new process in contract negotiations made an agreement possible between Boeing and its engineers’ union, SPEEA, its executive director told LNC in an interview after the surprise deal was announced yesterday.

“This process would not have happened if Muilenburg hadn’t blessed it,” said  Ray Goforth, executive director of SPEEA. “This process would not have happened without Muilenburg.”

The secret negotiations, setting aside areas of dispute that had no hope of agreement and moving forward on issues of mutual interest that could be concluded, led to a surprise tentative six year contract months ahead of scheduled negotiations and nine months ahead of the contract’s amendable date.

The company and union statements are here. The Seattle Times has details here.

Ray Goforth

Ray Goforth, Executive Director of SPEEA

Goforth told LNC that Boeing and SPEEA officials weren’t looking forward to another round of contentious, bitter contract negotiations that characterized talks four years ago. The contract covers engineers and technicians, and one group rejected the contract on the first vote but approved a slightly revised contract in a second vote.

“We both had a vision of what negotiations would look like and neither side wanted that,” said Goforth, referring to the talks four years ago. He said Boeing and SPEEA agreed to set aside issues they knew they wouldn’t agree on and which would have to be settled by a “judge, the Legislature and government regulators” such as the National Labor Relations Board.

Goforth said no complaints by the union against Boeing were withdrawn. Judicial and NLRB complaints will be pursued and the effort by SPEEA and the International Association of Machinists District 751 with the state Legislature on job clawbacks over the 2013 777X tax breaks will continue.

Agreements were reached on wages, which both sides characterized as above market value, and middle-ground accord was achieved on the controversial issues of pensions and co-funding health care benefits.

Goforth declined to comment directly on the contract between these negotiations and past ones, when Jim McNerney was CEO of Boeing. Muilenburg succeeded McNerney last summer. McNerney remained as non-executive chairman and is scheduled to leave the company’s employ next month. His continued presence on the Board of Directors after then hasn’t been clarified.

But Goforth did say “the tone of discussions and candor was a vast improvement of the last negotiations. It wasn’t easy, and it almost broke down at a couple of points,” but both sides came together to reach this tentative contract.

4 Comments on “Muilenburg’s blessing on process cleared way for SPEEA contract

  1. I have not much understanding for US labor contracts/negotiations, but it looks to me that Boeing is on the way back to “under promise and over deliver”.
    Maybe I am wrong, but I hope so, it’s been painfull to to see whats going on the last ~ 10 years.

  2. Let’s hope this is setting the groundwork of good worker relations for a push to develop a new single aisle aircraft to replace the max and better the A-320/321 ASAP

  3. Something most people did not know about McNeanary (I don’t try to spell his name right) was that he was also deeply involved in killing off the Social Security System.

    I think his vendetta against Boeing employees was just an extension of that, he would have been much happier operating in places where there are no laws concerning labor. I found him to be mean spirited, nasty and malicious person who abused his position (we can all have our views, but we all should be trying to do what’s best for the job and company not carry out vendettas)

    Its a sad state of affair when the Corporate Board in the UIS simply goes along with someone to the detriment of the company for his personal vendetta. they are supposed to be a reality check and stop that kind of behavior.

    From his background I had posted I had hopes of sorts that Muilenburg would change things and his tone said the same (but we all know talk is cheap, real view like Cowering Employees are what counts)

    This looks to have been handled in the most professional of manner by both sides. Union doing what it feels is for the good of the employees, Boeing management maintaining reasonable costs but not beating them down.

    And if we can’t agree let those areas we disagree on play out in the right venues without it being personal. This is business, when it becomes personal then you should quit.

    Kudos to both sides and my hopes have increased a great deal.

    It truly would be good to see Boeing again become an honorable company that Americans can be proud of and the world can at least respect.

  4. McNerny’s tenure at Boeing was a prime example of the wrong person at the wrong time. When he came, Boeing’s product line was solid, lacking only the model that the 787 was intended to be. Three major development programs initiated under his reign, the 787, the 747-8, and the KC-46, have been disasters. Boeing has thrived despite these fiascoes because of the 777 and 737NG, products that were developed under previous management, notably Alan Mulally, who McNerny forced out.

    Hopefully, now that somebody with an appreciation of the role that engineering plays in a company like Boeing is in charge, retirees like me can start to hold our heads high again.

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