Boeing engineers accept new contract

An engineers’ union has accepted a new four-year contract with Boeing.

Among participating members of Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA) Local 2001 – the majority of them in the Puget Sound region, including King County – 69 percent in a technical unit and 79 percent in a professional unit voted in favor of an agreement that was reached Nov. 15. Voting began two days later, and the ballots were counted Dec. 1 at the union’s headquarters in Seattle.

The contract includes guaranteed pay raises per year of at least 2 percent for engineers in the professional unit and at least 2.5 percent for technical workers.

The deal covers 20,400 members. Of those, about 74 percent voted on it, according to SPEEA.

The negotiations with Boeing, which lasted eight months, “were the toughest I’ve been involved with,” said Dave Patzwald, SPEEA’s negotiations chairman.

Union leaders said members were critical of Boeing management, blaming corporate decisions for delays to the 787 and 747-8 aircraft, fastener problems on multiple planes and increased contract labor while pushing existing employees to work more overtime.

“These contracts reward our employees for the valuable contributions they make to Boeing’s success” while allowing the company “to remain competitive,” said Doug Kight, a spokesman for company negotiator.

The contract averts the possibility of a second strike against Boeing this year. About 27,000 members of International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, including approximately 5,000 in the south King County area, left their jobs for 57 days until returning to work last month under a new four-year contract that includes a 15 percent pay raise over four years. SPEEA had threatened going on strike, too, during its negotiations that started in April.

Industry analysts have noted that the value of Boeing’s stock has declined during delays in the building of aircraft and during the machinists’ union strike.

SPEEA is still negotiating a separate agreement for about 500 of its members who work for Boeing in Wichita, Kan.