Members of the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA) on September 19 held a spontaneous lunch time march and rally at the Boeing plant in Everett, Washington to show their disgust with Boeing’s latest contract offer. About 1,500 engineers and technical workers took part in the demonstration.
Since April, SPEEA and Boeing had been negotiating a new contract. In June, the union proposed that the current contract be extended and remain in force over the next four years. The company offered a counter proposal that called for significant concessions.
On September 17, the SPEEA bargaining teams voted unanimously to reject the company’s offer calling it “disrespectful.”
SPEEA leadership subsequently said that it would send the company’s offer to the union’s members and let them vote on whether to accept or reject it. Ballots were mailed on September 20 to the union’s members.
Most of the members work in the Puget Sound area but some work in Oregon, California, and Utah. The ballots are due back on October 1 when they will be tallied and the results made public.
Unions leaders urged the membership to reject the company offer.
”There is nothing in this offer worth accepting,” say Ray Goforth, executive director of SPEEA. “This offer is so terrible, it’s important for our members to see it and let Boeing know directly what they think.”
According to the union, at a time when Boeing is making record profits and has a 4,000 plane order backlog it is demanding that its professional engineering staff and technical workers accept contract concessions.
“From wage pools that are the lowest since 1975, increased out-of-pocket costs for medical benefits, and drastically changing retiree benefits, the Boeing offers cut away the purchasing power and contract rights of our 23,000 represented employees in the SPEEA Professional and Technical bargaining units,” reads a statement on the union’s website.
Boeing also wants to strip disability and life insurance from those on military leave and insert contract language that gives the company the right to strip retirees of medical insurance and layoff experienced staff so that they can be replaced by lower paid new staff.
“This proposal fails at every level to recognize our contributions or respect the professionalism and dedication we bring to work each day,” reads the union’s statement.
The union is providing members with contract calculator on its website that allows them to calculate how the company’s contract offer would affect their paycheck.
The contract vote is not a strike authorization vote. Should members reject the contract, they would need to vote again on whether to authorize a strike.