LOS ANGELES Boeing Co.
and the lone labor holdouts inside its largest white-collar
union remain at a standoff as the aerospace giants
technicians have set another contract vote amid signs that the
company isnt budging from its latest offer.
Society of Professional
Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA) union technicians
are expected to begin voting in the coming week on a four-year
contract after Chicago-based Boeing failed to move from its
"We proposed some adjustments to
the company and they said No, " an SPEEA
spokesman said, referring to what Boeing called its "best and
negotiating team issued a terse statement, noting that the
terms of the companys latest offer "remain
While the unions roughly
15,000 engineersrepresenting about two-thirds of its
membershiprecently approved Boeings four-year
contract deal, about 7,400 SPEEA technicians rejected it and
authorized a strike (
amm.com, Feb. 21).
SPEEAs negotiating team
was scheduled to meet March 1 with technical unit
councilsroughly equivalent to shop stewardsafter
which ballots will go out, with results of the vote expected
within about two weeks.
While the SPEEA spokesman
declined to disclose which parts of the contract the union
sought to revise, its widely assumed they include the
companys intent to replace a traditional defined-benefit
retirement plan with a 401(k)-style plan for new hires starting
Meanwhile, following the
conclusion of a session this past week with Boeing and federal
mediators, SPEEA appeared to indicate that the unions
leaders could be resigned to not gaining any additional
concessions from the company. While the union called the
companys refusal to reinstate the traditional pension for
new hires "disappointing," it stressed that Boeings
offer, nevertheless, could "lock in" contract improvements that
have been gained since the work force in October rejected by a
97-percent margin an initial, "very regressive" offer from the
amm.com, Oct. 2).
Asked if this reflects an
acknowledgement that SPEEA technicians arent likely to
win further concessions, the spokesman would only say that
negotiators are "not making any recommendation on this vote,"
although its too early to tell if the individual councils
will issue their own recommendations.
While Boeing urged employees "to
come together as one team and focus on the challenges facing
the company," it didnt specifically mention current
problems with the lithium-ion batteries on the Boeing 787
Dreamliner, which have led the planes to be grounded in recent
The union represents more than
23,000 Boeing employees, most of whom are in the Puget Sound
area of the Pacific Northwest.