Some dissent among rank and file members of Boeing’s engineering union emerged Friday morning in reaction to the tentative new contract deal agreed on late Thursday with company management.
Just after 8:00 p.m Thursday, Boeing’s engineering union announced a proposal to extend the current contract by four years to 2026. The union’s elected executive board is recommending its members accept the deal in an upcoming vote.
The seven-member executive board presented the terms for the first time to the union’s two bargaining unit councils — one representing the roughly 11,000 engineers, the other representing about 7,000 technical staff — at meetings that began around 2:30 p.m. Thursday.
Until that meeting, SPEEA staff and the executive board had been negotiating with management under non-disclosure agreements, and had revealed none of the details to the union council reps, the foot soldiers who represent the union to their members in the offices and on the factory floor.
Although on Thursday night both Boeing and the union staff endorsed the deal and the executive board unanimously voted to recommend approval, the council reps in a vote declined to recommend the new contract.
SPEEA executive director Ray Goforth said Friday the engineering council reps voted 35 to 24 against recommending approval of the deal. The technical staff council reps voted 20 to 13 against approval.
However, in two follow-up votes, those opposed to the deal failed to convince enough of their peers to recommend rejecting the deal, Goforth added.
The engineering council reps didn’t vote on the rejection. The technical staff council reps voted 19 to 13 in favor of rejecting the deal, an outcome that failed to meet the 60 percent threshold for a consensus recommendation.
That meant the deal will go to a vote of SPEEA’s 18,000 members this month with a recommendation from the elected leadership to approve it, and no recommendation one way or the other from the bargaining unit councils.
One SPEEA council rep for the technical staff, who asked for anonymity because of the level of emotion around the issue, reacted angrily to the union’s announcement of the deal without registering the dissent. “This is being shoved down our throats,” he said.
He objected to the union agreeing in secrecy to a deal two years ahead of the current contract’s expiration, arguing that this suits Boeing but removes the union’s negotiating leverage.
Goforth in response called the proposal “a fantastic offer” and said he’s received positive feedback from members on Friday.
The proposed contract changes the formula Boeing uses to distribute compensation, which the union had objected to, and provides 5.5% total salary raises each year for the next two years, 5% in 2022, and then 4.5% raises for each of the subsequent four years.
The deal also increases the annual bonus payout formula. And it introduces 12 weeks of paid maternity/paternity leave as well as eligibility for the state’s Family and Medical Leave benefits.
The percentage of their medical costs paid by SPEEA members will increase in 2023 from 5% in the current contract to either 6%, 9% or 12%, depending on salary level.
Ballots will be mailed to SPEEA members on February 21 and the votes will be counted March 9th.