SPEEA Wichita Engineers Reject Boeing’s Contract Offer – Do Not Grant Strike Authority

Dépèche transmise le 6 mars 2009 par Business Wire

SPEEA Wichita Engineers Reject Boeing’s Contract Offer – Do Not Grant Strike Authority

SPEEA Wichita Engineers Reject Boeing’s Contract Offer – Do Not Grant Strike Authority

WICHITA, Kan.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Engineers at The Boeing Company here today rejected the company’s contract offer for a second time by a significant margin, but fell short granting strike authority to their negotiation team.

The vote means engineers represented by the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA), IFPTE Local 2001 at Boeing’s Wichita Integrated Defense Systems (IDS) will not strike.

With a second rejection now in hand, negotiators for the 700 represented engineers will request the company return to negotiations and settle the unresolved issues.

The tally showed 68 percent of the voting members rejected the offer, with 180 members voting “No” and 84 voting “Yes” to accept the company’s offer. The vote on strike authorization was 45 percent for authorization, with 118 voting “Yes” and 140 voting “No” on granting strike authorization power to their Wichita Engineering Unit (WEU) Negotiation Team.

Union leaders said difficult economic times played a significant role in members’ decision.

“Members reaffirmed the company’s offer was unacceptable,” said Joe Newberry, chair of the SPEEA Wichita Engineering Unit negotiating.

Boeing actions and recent communications from local management repeatedly talked about the economic times.

“The members have now rejected this contract twice,” said Ray Goforth, SPEEA executive director. “We now hope Boeing will have enough respect for their workforce to sit down and negotiate a respectful contract.”

Main table negotiations started Nov. 17. However, the two sides have only met on 13 days. Engineers have worked under a contract extension since Dec. 5, when the existing contract was set to expire.

Boeing’s offer of 3 percent salary increase pools, increased out-of-pocket medical costs and elimination of the pension for new employees is in stark contrast to the contract recently negotiated for engineers in Washington, Oregon, California and Utah. Employees there secured raise pools totaling 20 percent over the next four years while maintaining medical coverage and the defined benefit pension for new employees.

Finally, according to SPEEA, while denying the Wichita facility is for sale, Boeing refuses to provide any protections for SPEEA members in the event the plant is sold or divested. In 2005, Boeing sold its commercial airplane division in Wichita, a move that stripped hundreds of employees of key retirement benefits.

In a show of union support, SPEEA members around Boeing and other company’s today began pledging cash support for Wichita engineers if a strike was called. In just a few hours, more than 240 members pledged to help engineers with cash donations.

“The outside support along with a growth in membership has increased the solidarity of our members,” said Bob Brewer, SPEEA Midwest director.

Work at Wichita includes Italian and Japanese 767 tankers, E-4B (747 Airborne Operations Center) and E-737 Australian Wedgetail (Airborne Early Warning and Control Aircraft). According to union leaders, the Italian tankers and Wedgetail are years behind schedule. While union members have jointly worked with management to secure the contract for the next aerial refueling tanker, the company refuses to commit to bringing the work to Wichita if Boeing secures the $35 billion contract with the Air Force.

“These engineers are the experts in aerial refueling tankers,” said Goforth. “If Boeing wants to get that contract, it needs to improve its offer to these engineers.”

A local of the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (IFPTE), SPEEA represents 24,600 aerospace professionals at Boeing, Spirit AeroSystems in Wichita, Triumph Composite Systems, Inc., in Spokane, Wash., and BAE Systems, Inc., in Irving, Texas.

Business Wire

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