Union Sues Boeing For Early Retirement Benefits

August 11, 2005 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - The Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA) is suing Boeing Corp. for early retirees' medical and pension benefits that were lost when the company's commercial aircraft division was sold to Onex Corp., a Canadian investment firm.

Business Insurance reports that, according to the lawsuit, the union had negotiated contracts in 2003 and 2004 that employees with 10 years of service who were within six years of age 55 were eligible for early retiree medical and pension benefits. SPEEA charges that Boeing broke the contracts when employees were denied these early retirement benefits after they lost their jobs due to the sale of the division.

The employees of Boeing’s Wichita plant were told to re-apply for jobs at Spirit AeroSystems Inc., a new company created by Onex. Boeing determined that those that were not hired with Spirit were not eligible for the early retirement benefits.

Approximately 611 employees met the requirements for the benefits as of their last day of employment according to the suit.

A spokesman for Boeing said the company believes it is compliant with the agreements and the law.

Earlier this year, the Wichita law firm of Shores, Williamson & Ohaebosim said it planned to file a suit allegeg that Boeing and Onex have targeted workers over 40 years old for downsizing as they carried out the transaction for the Wichita facility and plants in Tulsa and McAlester, Oklahoma (See Boeing, Onex Hit with Age Discrimination Charge ).