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Fri, Oct 17, 2008

SPEEA Says Some Progress Made In Latest Preliminary Talks With Boeing

The Latest Round Of Boeing's Labor Woes To Begin October 28

Representatives with the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA – IFPTE Local 2001) tell ANN that while talks Thursday with Boeing were at times "heated and confrontational," the meeting did yield what the union calls "the first meaningful discussion of issues since negotiation committees started meeting in March."

"No major issues were decided," the union continues. "However, the exchange gives some hope Boeing will begin working major union issues, included medical benefits, outsourcing, providing a meaningful cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) and stopping efforts to cut employee groups from SPEEA contracts."

As ANN reported, a September 17 meeting between SPEEA and Boeing didn't make any headway... with the Ray Goforth, Executive Director for the union, lamenting "Things are looking worse. These negotiations will end up in the same train wreck as they did with the machinists if they don't change how they're approaching us."

Goforth referred to the 27,000 Boeing workers represented by the International Association of Machinists... who have been on strike at Boeing plants since early September. That labor action resulted in production line shutdowns, a complete halt to aircraft deliveries, and Boeing's losing some $100 million per day that the strike drags on.

That labor action has also given SPEEA some leverage in the press -- if not with Boeing, per se -- as it presents the union with a ready-made worst-case scenario to point to, if the planemaker doesn't give the engineers what they're looking for.

"There was more substantive talk about issues during this two-hour meeting than we’ve had with Boeing since committees started meeting eight months ago," Goforth said after the most recent meeting with Boeing. "We are hopeful this means the company is ready to start solving problems. Collective bargaining does not have to be a titanic struggle."

Close to 40 people attended the meeting at SPEEA headquarters, including two representatives from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS). The representatives observed, but did not participate in the meeting.

Boeing used the meeting to present SPEEA with contract language that should see tentative agreement when main table talks open in less than two weeks. The majority of the items presented were no-change, cosmetic or clerical changes.

A number of union data requests to Boeing remain unfilled. Among them are requests for additional information on medical benefits, compensation, outsourcing and the use of contractor labor at Boeing.

"Boeing has not agreed to a single major item," the union adds. Formal talks are scheduled to begin October 28.

FMI: www.boeing.com; www.speea.org

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