Boeing engineers union rejects contract offer

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SEATTLE (AP) — Boeing’s union of engineers and technical workers overwhelmingly rejected the aerospace giant’s first contract offer in ballots tallied Monday night.

Union leaders for the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace, or SPEEA, had recommended that the union’s 23,000 members say no to Boeing’s four-year contract offer.

No strike is imminent. A strike can’t occur without a separate membership vote.

Both sides said negotiations would resume today.

“We hope the vote results clear away the nonsense and allow us to begin substantive negotiations,” Ray Goforth, SPEEA executive director, said in a statement.

Goforth said the contract offers — one covering about 15,500 engineers and another covering about 7,500 technical workers — gave the company too much power to change provisions.

They also included higher out-of-pocket costs for medical benefits and drastically changing retirement benefits at a time of record company profits.

The company said that while the contract expires Oct. 6, it remains in effect until Nov. 25.

Boeing’s vice president of engineering for Boeing Commercial Airplanes, Mike Delaney, has said the company will move engineering work out of the Puget Sound region if it is forced to give local employees higher compensation and benefits, The Seattle Times reported last week.

The company has proposed switching retirement benefits for new hires from a pension plan to a 401k plan.

The union said the proposal would provide 40 percent fewer dollars to the retiree.

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