LOS ANGELES Negotiators
for Boeing Co. and its largest white-collar union are due to
return to the bargaining table this week after rank-and-file
members rejected the companys latest contract offer.
Members of the Society of
Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA) turned
down by a margin of more than 95 percent Boeings proposed
four-year contract, which covers more than 23,000 union
engineers and technicians, it said.
This weeks vote
didnt authorize a strike. Instead, it was held to
underline SPEEA leaders contention that Boeings
proposal was a nonstarter and that its "overwhelming" rejection
would "send a loud message" to Boeing management to make major
changes to its offer. Earlier, the unions bargaining unit
councils unanimously turned down the offer.
While Boeings existing
contract with the SPEEA expires Oct. 6, the earliest a strike
could begin is Nov. 25, according to terms of the existing
contract. A separate strike vote would have to be held prior to
"We hope the vote results clear
away the nonsense and allow us to begin substantive
negotiations," SPEEA executive director Ray Goforth said.
An SPEEA spokesman in Tukwila,
Wash., later said that the companys offers had been "so
atrocious that theyre not salvageable," leading union
negotiators to decide to "let the members weigh in" this
"(In) the spirit of good faith,
we will continue to listen closely to (the SPEEA) negotiations
team," Chicago-based Boeing said.
Among the key areas of dispute
in Boeings proposed package are the size of the wage
hikes over the life of the contract, higher employee
contributions to the medical coverage plan, a shift from a
traditional pension plan to a defined-contribution 401(k) plan
for new hires in 2013 and language that the union charges would
allow Boeing to alter the terms of the contract even following
While theres speculation
that negotiations could continue for several months, the SPEEA
spokesman said that the union is hopeful the company will bring
"reasonable proposals" to the bargaining table.