SPEEA techs to vote again on same offer from Boeing

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Boeing on Wednesday refused to budge on the terms of its last offer to its white-collar union, and so the union’s bargaining team has decided to resubmit the offer to the technical workers, who just last week voted to reject it.

The contract was accepted by Boeing’s engineers, the larger unit that makes up two-thirds of the members of the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace.

But the technical staff — almost 8,000 of them in the Puget Sound region — in the same ballot rejected the contract and voted to authorize a strike.

That split vote put the union in a difficult position, because it seemed unlikely Boeing would reward the techs with additional concessions the engineers didn’t get.

Union President Tom McCarty had expressed hope in an interview Tuesday that Boeing might shift money around within the offer to increase the guaranteed portion of the wage increases.

But in Wednesday’s formal negotiating session at the Sea-Tac Hilton, Boeing refused any changes.

The offer provides 5 percent average pay increases in each year of the four-year contract and leaves the current medical plan untouched.

The main negative change for the union is that the offer eliminates the traditional pension for new hires and replaces it with a 401(k)-style retirement-savings plan.

The decision to have another vote comes with no formal recommendation from the SPEEA leadership on how its tech members should vote.

In the first vote, the leadership had recommended rejection.

But the wording of Wednesday’s union statement has what looks like an implicit suggestion to accept the contract the second time around:

“While disappointing that the current offer eliminates the pension for anyone hired after March 1, 2013, accepting the company’s last offer would lock-in the considerable improvements we achieved” in the bargaining process.

SPEEA spokesman Bill Dugovich said ballots will be sent to technical workers early next week and members will have 10 days to vote.