One group of workers at Boeing’s Pacific Northwest facilities voted to accept the company’s latest contract offer, while a second voted to reject the deal and to authorize a strike if necessary, the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA)/IFPTE Local 2001 announced Tuesday.
The engineers in the professional workers unit voted 6,483 to 5,514 to approve the four-year contract. Meanwhile, the technical workers unit voted 2,868 to accept and 3,203 to reject the contract. They also voted 3,903 to 2,165 to authorize a strike.
SPEEA Executive Director Ray Goforth said:
There are pathways to a negotiated agreement available. With this second rejection by technical workers of Boeing takeaways, it’s time for the company to stop wasting resources and improve its offer to reflect the value and contributions technical workers bring to Boeing. That way, we can avoid a strike and focus on fixing the problems of the 787 and restoring customer confidence in Boeing.
While seeking takeaways at the bargaining table, Boeing itself showed how valuable the SPEEA members are to the company’s success when it said the grounding of its new 787 jets a month ago requires mobilizing “hundreds of engineering and technical experts who are working around the clock” to solve problems with the plane’s lithium-ion batteries.
The engineers (aerospace, electrical and other fields) and technical workers (designers, technical writers, planners and others) work on plans for new planes and solve problems that arise on the factory floor. The assembly of the planes is performed by members of the Machinists (IAM), who agreed to a four-year contract in 2011.
In the fall, both units of workers overwhelmingly rejected the initial contract offer and negotiations resumed in December and continued through the early part of this year. Also, SPEEA has filed several unfair labor practice charges against Boeing with the National Labor Relations Board.
SPEEA has scheduled a Feb. 22 press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., to outline the impact a strike by technical workers will have on airlines, defense programs, trade and the tourist industry.