LOS ANGELES Members of
Boeing Co.s largest white-collar union will vote this
coming week on whether to accept a contract that union
officials have urged them to reject, as they also deliberate
authorization of a strike against the aerospace company.
Ballots for a new four-year
contract will be mailed to the more than 23,000 members of the
Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace
(SPEEA) Feb. 5, a union spokesman said, noting that the union
will begin counting votes Feb. 19 and will "stay there until
theres a result."
SPEEA council representatives
voted to add a strike-authorization item to the ballots at a
Jan. 31 special meeting.
The unions 105-member
bargaining council, as well as the negotiating teams for its
engineers and technicians, previously turned down what Boeing
called its "best and final" offer.
While Boeing is "disappointed"
with the negotiators rejection of the proposed contract,
it remains hopeful that employees will "run the numbers for
themselves and vote for whats best for them and the
long-term competitiveness of the company," it said.
The two sides remain split on at
least three major issues. Probably the biggest hurdle is the
Chicago-based companys intention to eliminate its
traditional pension plan for new hires in favor of a
defined-contribution 401(k) plan.
In addition, the union fears
that if theres a change in federal social security
legislation, a "quirk" in one of its current benefit formulas
could result in a prolonged freeze in some members
retirement payments. Additionally, a change in Medicare
eligibility rules could threaten the medical benefits of early
retirees, the spokesman said.
SPEEA members, primarily located
in the Puget Sound area of the Pacific Northwest, have been
working without a contract since November.