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Boeing union to vote on contract, strike

Keywords: Tags  Boeing, aerospace, Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace, SPEEA, contract vote, strike vote, aerospace, Frank Haflich

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 there’s a result."

SPEEA council representatives voted to add a strike-authorization item to the ballots at a Jan. 31 special meeting.

The union’s 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 what’s 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 company’s 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 there’s 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.

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