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Union files labor complaint vs. Spirit

Keywords: Tags  Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace, SPEEA, labor complaint, Spirit AeroSystems, National Labor Relations Board, NLRB, Frank Haflich

LOS ANGELES — In the latest in a series of disputes, the largest white-collar union at Spirit AeroSystems Inc. has filed an unfair labor practice charge against the aerospace company.

The Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA) filed the unfair labor charge with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), claiming that the Wichita, Kans.-based company has refused to bargain with the union and violated the grievance procedure on 15 terminations. The union’s Midwest director, Bob Brewer, said it was "a complete repudiation of the established grievance process and Spirit’s own policies."

The union also said the company was "nonresponsive" at meetings related to Spirit’s "abrupt and arbitrary firing" of 38 employees in March.

"The allegation is untrue," Spirit said. "Once the (NLRB) has all the facts, we are confident that they will dismiss it."

SPEEA’s latest clash with Spirit is part of a pattern that has persisted over the past few years, a union spokesman in Tukwila, Wash., said. The union noted that Spirit unfairly lowered the performance ratings of more than 1,000 of its members in 2011 and downgraded another 83 employees’ ratings in 2012.

The spokesman said the union had received "indications" that Spirit wants to invoke what he described as an infrequently implemented clause in its contracts that would result in employees in the lowest performance category losing benefits, including recall rights following a layoff.

SPEEA represents 2,162 technical workers and 807 engineers at the builder of commercial aerospace structures and components, which is considered to be the largest structural subcontractor to Chicago-based Boeing Co.

Earlier this year, SPEEA participated in difficult negotiations for more than 23,000 members at Boeing. Their pay was ultimately raised, but they gave up a traditional defined-pension plan for new hires for a defined-contribution 401(k) plan (, March 19).

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