Boeing Workers Get Salary, Pension Hikes

December 3, 2002 ( - Boeing Co.'s Washington state engineers and technical workers have given an enthusiastic thumbs up to a new contract featuring salary increases and pension hikes of $10 per month of service over the three-year contract length. The contract also boosted the workers' share of medical costs.

According to an Associated Press story, the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA), reported that the engineers and the technical workers approved their contracts by identical percentages, with 88.2% voting yes and 11.8% voting no.   Approximately 12,000 workers participated in the mail vote.

Boeing promised pension increases, from $50 to $58 a month per year of service, in the first year of the contract. In the next two years, the payments would increase to $59 and then to $60 a month per year of service.

Under SPEEA’s Washington state offers, Boeing offered a mix of guaranteed and merit raises for employees from a fund that is equal to 4% of the bargaining unit’s total salary base in each year of the three-year contract.   In addition, the company offered 6% contract-ratification bonuses, totaling about $4,800 for engineering workers and $3,430 for technical workers.

SPEEA technical workers in Washington earn on average $53,469 and the engineers make about $75,000. SPEEA workers in the Wichita unit earn an average $56,226.

Approval did not necessarily mean workers got what they wanted, said Charles Bofferding, SPEAA executive director `I think the strong yes vote is a reflection of people understanding that indeed it was a contract that made sense,” he told the AP.

Company officials said the vote removed an element of uncertainty.

SPEEA said the contracts covered about 17,500 Washington state employees who work primarily in Boeing’s commercial airplanes division. Their contract expired Sunday.

The SPEEA vote came 2 ½ months after Boeing’s largest union, the machinists, narrowly averted a strike over its contract proposal. Machinists union members rejected the offer, but failed to authorize a strike, triggering an automatic adoption of the contract under union bylaws. (See Boeing Workers Say “No” to Contract – And Strike ).

SPEEA’s top issues were increased salaries and benefits. The union, which has lost more than 2,300 members because of cutbacks in the past year, also wanted stronger job security provisions.