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Boeing says union’s decision to submit contract proposal to members was premature

Post by John Gillie / The News Tribune on Sep. 19, 2012 at 3:10 pm with No Comments »
September 19, 2012 3:22 pm

Boeing’s second largest union acted prematurely in submitting the company’s initial comprehensive new contract proposal to its members, Boeing said this week as its engineers and technical workers begin considering the new offer.

Boeing Saturday submitted that proposal for a new 4-year contract with its nearly 23,000 engineers and technical workers to negotiators for the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace, the union that represents them.

The union announced earlier this week it intended to submit that proposal to its members without further negotiations for an up or down vote. The union’s negotiating committee recommended rejecting the deal. Votes will be counted Oct. 1.

Boeing said it thought the two sides would be talking more and altering their proposals before it went the membership.

“Our proposal provides both market-leading retirement and medical benefits, and competitive wage increases all four years of the contract. However, the SPEEA negotiating committee’s decision to abandon the negotiation process has denied us the opportunity to come to a mutual understanding about our proposal,” Boeing said in a statement.

The union said it had submitted its comprehensive proposal on June 15, and the company had delayed providing a counterproposal for three months. The union’s contract expires Oct. 6.

A significant omission in the package that went to union members for their feedback was ballot measure on whether they wanted to authorize a strike.

The union said it disliked the company’s offer for several reasons including that it ended Boeing’s defined benefit pension plan for new hires, that it raised member’s out-of-pocket medical insurance costs by as much as $2,000 a year and that it gave technical workers a smaller yearly percentage raise than engineers.

Under Boeing’s proposal, engineers would receive an average 3 percent annual raise. Average salaries for engineers would top $125,000 at the end of the 4-year term. Technical worker salaries would be raised by about 2 percent annually after deducting higher medical costs. An average technical worker would be paid about $89,000 at the end of the contract.

Boeing said SPEEA’s summary of the proposal to its members wasn’t totally correct.

“SPEEA’s proposal summary misrepresents components of our proposal and we sincerely hope this reflects a misunderstanding or a miscommunication rather than a deliberate distortion. We expressed our willingness to meet throughout this week with SPEEA’s negotiating team in order to hear the union’s response, answer questions and discuss any counterproposals – especially since we have time left before contract expiration,” Boeing negotiators said.

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