LOS ANGELES Representatives of Boeing Co.s largest white-collar union are nearing a vote on the companys latest contract proposal, which still contains provisions strongly opposed by the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA) union.
Representatives of SPEEAs various districts will decide by Jan. 31 whether to recommend approval or rejection of Boeings new four-year contract offer, a union spokesman in Seattle said. Members at the same time are expected to vote on a strike authorization, he added.
Voting packages will be prepared and sent out to members the week of Feb. 4.
Talks between SPEEA and Boeing resumed last week after a holiday hiatus, but ended after three days with no deal between the parties.
Countering what SPEEA last week termed as its "best and final" offer to the company (amm.com, Jan. 17), Chicago-based Boeing presented its own "final" proposal in which it agreed to extend the previous contracts wage terms, which expired in October of last year.
But Boeing refused to budge on certain points that the union previously said were crucial, including its continued effort to eliminate existing defined-pension benefits for new hires, which the union still opposes, the SPEEA spokesman said.
SPEEA, which represents more than 23,000 engineers and technicians, maintains that its members would be instrumental in addressing the battery problems that have caused most of Boeings new 787 Dreamliners to be grounded, noting that a new labor deal would remove any "distraction" from this role. But Boeing suggested that other personnel could handle the job.
While Boeing has halted Dreamliner deliveries until the battery issue is resolved with the Federal Aviation Administration, a company spokesman in Seattle noted this week that "production of the 787 continues."
A Boeing labor spokesman couldnt be reached for comment.