Union Frowns on Boeing's Counteroffer

On the heels of an offer from the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA), Boeing (NYSE: BA  ) presented  its own "best and final offer" of a contract to the union. The union did not react favorably, saying in a statement on its website that the conflict was "escalating."

The union represents about 23,000 employees whose last contract expired in November. On Wednesday, SPEEA submitted what it called its "best and final" offer to Boeing.

In a press statement released late Thursday, Boeing announced an offer that agreed with SPEEA's move to extend the current agreement for all terms not brought up during negotiations. Boeing's latest offer would generate salary pools of 5% annually over the life of the contract (four years), granting more than $84,000 in additional pay and performance-based incentive payments for the average professional engineer over the life of the contract. Boeing also committed to more than $64,500 in additional pay and incentives for the average technical employee. The aerospace giant's heath care plan would stay intact as is, although a new retirement plan for new hires is being discussed.

Boeing Commercial Airplanes' Vice President of Engineering Mike Delaney explained the rationale behind the company's offer in the release, saying, "Agreeing to this contract as soon as possible will allow all of us to focus our time and energy on the immediate challenges facing the company."

According to SPEEA, Boeing soundly rejected its offer in providing this latest counteroffer. While SPEEA notes the move from Boeing provides improvements on earlier negotiations, the offer's perceived flaws -- particularly over pensions for new hires and the risk to retirement benefits for established workers -- still earned it a recommendation for rejection from the union's professional and technical negotiation teams.

SPEEA members will vote on Boeing's latest offer in the coming weeks, the union said, and ballots are likely to include a request to grant the authority to call a strike.


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