SPEEA sending contract back to technical unit for revote
By BRIAN BECKLEY
Renton Reporter Assistant Editor
February 28, 2013 · Updated 4:00 PM
With Boeing not making any changes to its original offer, SPEEA is asking the members of its technical unit to re-vote on the contract they rejected last month.
The announcement of a re-vote came after a day of renewed negotiations between Boeing and the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace during which no progress was made and the company re-affirmed that its "best and final offer" to the union remained unchanged.
Members of the technical unit rejected this contract offer by a margin of 3,203 to 2,868 and authorized a strike 3,903 to 2,165 on Feb. 18.
Members of the union's engineers unit approved the contract 6,483 to 5,514.
SPEEA spokesman Bill Dugovich called the re-vote "unusual" but said the decision to send it back to members was based on the results of a survey of members of the technical unit. The survey was created after the contract was rejected and was designed to help the union teams set priorities before heading back to negotiations.
Approximately 4,500 verified members completed the survey and an additional 500-600 responses came in, but did not include members numbers, though Dugovich said the percentages were about the same no matter if the additional 600 were included.
"It guided our return to negotiations," he said.
The major sticking point between the sides is a change that would take all new hires out of the company's pension program and place them in a 401K program. The change would mean a drastic reduction in benefits. According to Boeing, it amounts to a 31 percent cut while the union says it is more like 42 percent.
Other parts of the contract offer, however, addressed other changes that were proposed in October as the company's first offer. That contract was rejected by 97 percent of members.
"While disappointing that the current offer eliminates the pension for anyone hired after March 1, 2013, accepting the company’s last offer would lock-in the considerable improvements we achieved since Boeing’s initial, very regressive, offer we voted down by 97 [percent] in October. Those improvements include continuing annual 5 [percent] wage pools for the next four years, maintaining medical benefits without increases and continuing the benefits of the 2008 to 2012 contract for employees in the Technical Unit," the union said in an email sent to members Wednesday evening.
The next contract vote will be the third for the 7,400 members in the SPEEA Technical Unit.
Ballots are expected to go out to members next week. They will have 10 days to return them.