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Boeing engineers reject contract offer, talks resume Tuesday

Updated: November 4, 2012 6:13AM

The union representing roughly 22,000 Boeing Co. engineers and technical workers resumed negotiations with the Chicago-based company Tuesday after members resoundingly rejected the company’s contract offer.

The Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace said 96 percent of those voting from the professional unit rejected the contract proposal Monday. The unit represents nearly 14,279 Boeing engineers.

More than 97 percent of those voting from the technical unit rejected the contract. That unit represents 7,563 Boeing workers.

The Boeing proposal would put raises at or below the rate of inflation, significantly increase employees’ share of medical costs, eliminate the pension for future employees and includes language that would allow Boeing to change important provisions at any time, the union said.

“We hope the vote results clear away the nonsense and allow us to begin substantive negotiations,” Ray Goforth, executive director of the union, said in a statement. “Until now, meaningful discussions have eluded us because the Boeing negotiating team was convinced they understood the members better than the SPEEA negotiating team. With this question resolved, our expectation is that everyone can focus upon getting a mutually acceptable agreement.”

Contracts covering the workers expire Oct. 6, but the contract will remain in place for a limited time as talks continue. Boeing said the union has notified the company that it will terminate the contract if an agreement isn’t reached by Nov. 25.

“We look forward to sitting back down at the table today with SPEEA,” Boeing spokesman Doug Alder said in an email statement. “Our goal is to reach an agreement as soon as possible.”

Negotiations began nearly a year ago. The company rejected the union’s initial proposal to extend the existing contract, the union said.

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