March 19, 2013
Credit: Photo: Aviation Week
Changing their stance from a month ago, technical workers represented by the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (Speea) have voted overwhelmingly to accept a four-year contract offer from Boeing.
The vote was on the same contract that technical workers rejected by a 53% margin in ballots counted Feb. 20. This time, 85% of the votes were in favor of the contract. Balloting was conducted by mail, with votes coming in over the past week and counted March 18.
The margin of acceptance reflects the position the 7,191 technical workers found themselves in. They represent only a third of the 22,900 Speea members at Boeing’s aircraft factories. While the technical workers at first rejected Boeing’s four-year offer, the larger engineering unit accepted it. The two groups bargain together but sign separate contracts.
When they agreed to the contract, Speea engineers accepted a no-strike clause through 2016, just as unionized machinists have.
So the technical workers would not have received official support on the picket lines had they elected to strike. Their negotiators, who strongly urged a “no” vote from both units in February’s vote, stayed neutral this time.
The contracts mean eight straight years of 5% salary increase pools for all Speea members.
But they also eliminate defined pensions for all new-hire members as of March 1. Ending such pensions has been a long-time Boeing goal, but until now it has been so strongly opposed by union members that Boeing backed down.
The guaranteed monthly pension plan will continue for current members. But new Speea members will need to contribute to their own pensions in a company-matched 401(k) plan.