“Stripping our future new hires of their pension and replacing it with a much inferior (one-third less value by Boeing’s own estimate) “enhanced” 401K is a strategic move by Boeing that creates a “two-tier” environment for SPEEA – some members WITH pensions and those WITHOUT pensions. Under a two-tier arrangement, at some point in the future the number WITHOUT will exceed the number of members WITH. Boeing can then introduce a new proposal to freeze ALL of our pensions. When members vote, passage is much more likely at that point because of the two-tier."
Roderick Siders, Industrial Engineer
Everett Boeing, 10 years service
"When I got that job offer and the pension was a component; that was a huge
for me to come to Boeing. Pensions have been eroded too much. This is a fight worth having."
Daniel Peters, Structural Analyst
Bellevue Boeing, 1 year service
"I do like working for Boeing as I have been here going on 25 years and I am a proud 2nd generation Boeing Employee. It is very disappointing that Boeing has not offered SPEEA a better contract than even the one we are currently working under. Why can't we get a fair contract? Boeing is doing record production levels now – please provide us with a fair and just contract that shows us that The Boeing Company is proud of our contributions."
Robin Reece, Methods Analyst
Everett Boeing, 24 years service
"I'm still voting NO and I'm voting to strike."
Deborah Pennington, Technical Designer
Everett Boeing, 18 years service
"I first joined SPEEA in 1979. This vote is one of the most critical I can remember. We are in a strong position as evidenced by everybody and their sister sending out video's regarding why we should accept the contract."
Michael L. McWilliams, Project Engineer
Everett Boeing, 34 years service
"I have been with the company for fifteen years. I was not originally with the union, but joined it during the time of the last strike. I enjoy working for Boeing and want our company to continue to be successful. SPEEA represents my interests and is negotiating on my behalf. I support and stand behind the SPEEA Negotiation Team. I will not accept anything less than a respectful contract that shares our company's success with the dedicated engineering and technical professionals who put their souls into their work."
Eric C. Pawtowski, Structural Design Engineer
Everett Boeing, 16 years service
"I started in the Puget Sound area in then spent a year in a non-represented position in New Orleans. I saw the opportunity to transfer back to the Puget Sound area and took it. I feel better about my job security. I feel like I have support behind me and I'm supporting the union. "
Stephen Loftin, Manufacturing Engineer
Auburn Boeing, 5 years service
"I have been with The Boeing Company 35 years. I am like most Speea members. I was an hourly employee and switched over to salary as a career change. I have been out on strike 3 times and I'm not afraid to go out now. The engineers and technical professionals have also gone out on strike for 40 days and are prepared to go out now. SPEEA represents my interests and is negotiating on my behalf."
Deborah Pace, Investigations Technical
Everett Boeing, 35 years service
Everett Council Representative Dennis Davaz recently sent the following to
Boeing Chief Technology Officer John Tracy in response to an email Tracy sent to SPEEA-represented employees.
Hello Mr. Tracy,
Thanks for the note – no, really. These points are a perfect platform for me to respond in a thoughtful and respectful manner.
I am confused by your first paragraph. You acknowledge that engineers and technicians serve a high calling and that we are critical to solve our customers’ toughest problems and that recent news drives that fact home for The Boeing Company. But, then you suggest the only way we can “continue to embrace Boeing’s storied tradition of technical excellence, come together as one team, and face our current challenges” is to approve the current “best-and-final contract offer (BAFO) Boeing has presented.” Allow me to suggest an alternative: Let’s come together as one team, and the best way to start that is by not arbitrarily creating a two-tiered retirement benefit climate for SPEEA-represented engineers and technicians in the first place. You’ll just be telling us you need to “streamline” the two programs into the less-valuable and higher-risk option for the employee in a couple of contract cycles from now anyway (like you did earlier in this negotiation process by comparing us to the non-represented employees). So, let’s just not go down that path in the first place and keep us all one happy family with the more valuable pension benefit we have right now. The Boeing Company can truly acknowledge the storied tradition of technical excellence and allow us to face our current challenges by presenting us the “next” best-and-final-offer (BAFO) that allows new hires to get the traditional defined-benefit pension that has served us so well for so long.
From: John Tracy
Sent: Monday, February 04, 2013 9:04 AM
Subject: Support from SPEEA-represented employees needed to meet challenges
A message from:
Chief Technology Officer
To: All SPEEA-represented employees and their managers.
I believe that engineering is a high calling because engineers and technical workers solve our customers’ toughest problems and make the world a better place. Today at Boeing, we are all reminded of this truth. My message today is a call to SPEEA-represented engineers and technical workers to continue to embrace Boeing’s storied tradition of technical excellence, come together as one team, and face our current challenges by approving the best-and-final contract offer (BAFO) Boeing has presented.
Boeing made its BAFO proposal to SPEEA Jan. 17, offering to roll forward provisions of the previous contract for current employees, including 5 percent annual wage pools and no change to health care contributions or plan design for the four-year life of the contract. Pensions for current SPEEA-represented employees are unchanged except for an increase in the pension basic benefit. We also proposed a new retirement program for future new hires, replacing the defined benefit pension with a market-leading defined-contribution retirement-savings program that is portable and totally vested from day one.
By now you’ve had the opportunity to hear from our Boeing engineering leaders as well as from SPEEA leadership. I think a clear-eyed view of the offer reveals how strong it is, especially as BCA strives to find productivity savings sufficient to produce its backlog profitably, BDS contends with a shrinking defense budget, and EO&T works to increase efficiency and maintain quality. By the end of the current contract proposal, SPEEA-represented employees will have experienced eight consecutive years of 5 percent wage pools. This compounded raise pool is one of the best, if not the best, in our industry.
In addition to continuing key economic provisions of the earlier contract, we have eliminated important provisions of our earlier offer, such as increased health care paycheck contributions and a new health care plan design, specifically accepting the vast majority of SPEEA’s own counteroffer.
SPEEA-represented employees can expect to receive a mail ballot in the coming days, and I want to add my voice to others urging you to examine the offer and vote in your own best interest, and in the best interest of our customers and others who depend on us.
This is a time when Boeing needs the focus of its brilliant engineering and technical workforce on the challenges facing the company. We will get through this period the same way we have in the past, by relying on the dedication and excellence of our team – particularly our engineering and technical workers.
Thank you for your consideration.
Sure, interest rates are low so that pension fund isn’t generating the huge amount of interest for Boeing that it has for so many decades before – but that’s the breaks, right? You bank-rolled the huge interest when you could, which allowed you to make more modest contributions to the pension fund and still get the defined benefit to retiring employees over time, but now that the climate isn’t working as much in your favor you want to shift the risk over to the employee?
Managing a huge fund across a massive population (that retires at different times) allows Boeing to average out the risk – individually; the risk is much greater to the employee. Interest rates aren’t going to stay at this bargain basement level forever (are they?), so eventually we’ll get back to something rational in our economy. Boeing can weather this storm much better than individual employees will be able to weather a 2008-style stock market correction. If Boeing truly does honor the high calling we answer and our contribution to this company’s success, they’ll retain the retirement security current employees get for future engineers and techs, too.
Eligibility age for Medicare
It’s also disturbing when our CEO is heading a group to lobby the U.S. Congress to increase the eligibility age for Medicare and Social Security, but the company’s negotiation team will not allow for consideration of the impact of such an action in our contract. Mike Delaney told us all recently in a WebEx that they wouldn’t entertain contingencies on legislative actions that haven’t happened yet. It would be easy to keep the benefit arrangement similar to what it is now and protect employees from disastrous personal medical situations by just changing the contract verbiage from “age 65” to “age of Medicare/Social Security eligibility.” Then, no matter what Congress does, our members are covered until Medicare kicks in. Otherwise, how is Boeing actively lobbying for a change that would monumentally add to the employee’s retirement expenses not a huge shift in costs, especially at an age when medical expenses are likely to be greatest and therefore insurance coverage for that gap most expensive? Some other insurance company will be making a profit margin on top of those expenses. It seems like a ploy to drive the very people who are supposed to be valued assets lower down the financial ladder, or to force them to stay in the workplace longer than they planned. How is that honoring those who had the talent, skills, and abilities, along with investing in the education and development of expertise in order to answer that high calling and contribute to the success of the company? Some people are thrilled to work well into their golden years. But, I know many more who desire an early or timely retirement and have planned accordingly on the assumption that the social arrangement that has been in place throughout their career will be there for them when they reached their 65th birthday. It seems to me like people are getting set up for bait and switch, and that seems unfair.
Market average pay
Your next couple of paragraphs raises some other issues. When you say you “think a clear-eyed view of the offer reveals how strong it is” and “this compounded raise pool is one of the best, if not the best, in our industry.” For me, it’s all about what it will take to get our salaries in line with the performance levels we provide in relation to the market: What we do for The Boeing Company compared to what others do for less successful companies in less profitable industries. If we perform significantly above the market expectation, why aren’t we compensated at that higher performance level? There are lots of us that have sustained performance in the “Highly Effective or Exceptional” range that are lucky to have made it to the Market Reference average salary, and there doesn’t seem to be a mechanism to get our salary to the appropriate point in line with our performance – even compared to the market ranges of companies not performing as well. The 5% salary increase pools over the last contract finally brought our average salaries up to just above market average, and 5% pools for each year in the next contract will hopefully at least keep us there. But, with so many of our members nearing retirement age, much of the highest-compensated salary base will be leaving the pool and replaced by entry-level salaries, if replaced at all. Again, you’re singing our praises as so crucial to contributing to the success of our company, which is leading the booming aerospace industry - we’re delivering “the goods” for Boeing to be a market-leading industrial powerhouse, and we’re getting market average compensation in exchange. In your glowing description of what engineers and technicians bring to The Boeing Company, I didn’t catch the phrase “market average performance” anywhere – but that’s what you’re paying for.
Boeing’s first “best and final offer”
In your 4th paragraph you’re attempting to take credit for “eliminate[ing] important provisions of our earlier offer, accepting the vast majority of SPEEA’s own counteroffer.” Our 96% rejection of your earlier offer should have been clear enough that it was an insulting offer. The fact that you still consider the proposed health care take a ways as “important provisions” demonstrates that you do not acknowledge our value to the enterprise – you don’t get credit for moving from that outrageous original position. The proper response would be to apologize for such an insult, not to still suggest they were appropriate provisions to begin with and to claim the moral high-ground for now correcting at least that error. SPEEA’s counteroffer is what we see as appropriate, and thank goodness you’ve come as far as you have toward it.
Allow me “to add my voice to others in urging [members] to examine the offer and vote in [their] own best interest, and in the best interest of . . . others who depend on us” – our total compensation package is what it is today only because we’ve stuck together to not allow the company’s divide and conquer tactics to win out. Our own best interest has been served by many people not selling out in previous negotiations and voting as a team to keep good provisions for everyone. An injustice to any is an injustice to all. Do you have any children or grandchildren that may aspire to be an engineer or technician for the Boeing Company? Are you willing to contribute to the devaluation of these careers and therefore the minimization of their financial futures? If we give in on this, it’ll just be the start – what will the company come after next? Think of our working economy as a whole: which jobs should be eligible for higher pay and benefits? If we allow these jobs to become devalued, how many other jobs will continue to be devalued even further, engaging all us all in a race to the bottom. I personally can’t think of any other sector of the working economy that is in a better position to say “No, this has gone far enough and we’re not going to allow it to continue further.” Do we have the guts to do it?
Future engineers and technical workers
For The Boeing Company to ask us to sell out future engineers and technicians by giving us an offer that’s almost as good as our last contract - except for a couple poison pills that may end up exploding in our face, they’re asking us to make a Judas bargain without even offering the 30 pieces of silver. I hope we’re all strong enough to resist the temptation to sell out the new hires even if they were to offer us something additional. But in the end SPEEA members will decide if Boeing’s latest “best and final offer” is good enough, and whether they are willing to give the SPEEA Negotiation Teams strike authorization authority so they can go back to the table and fix the couple issues wrong and get Boeing’s “next, last, best-and-final offer.” Whatever the result, we’ll do it together.
Brilliant engineering and technical workforce
John, I whole-heartedly agree with your last paragraph!
“This is [indeed] a time when Boeing needs the focus of its brilliant engineering and technical workforce on the challenges facing the company. We will [indeed] get through this period the same way we have in the past, by relying on the dedication and excellence of our team – particularly our engineering and technical workers.”
Your attempt to flatter us and appeal to our sense of responsibility to meet the challenges that face us is admirable, but we’re not suckers.
So Boeing – it’s easy: Just quit trying to force us into doing this job for less in the future and let us get to retirement we earned without having to purchase an additional insurance plan and we’re “in”. You need us on the job to get this done, and we want nothing more than a chance to get it done. Just, don’t make us do it for less.
For our members: the truth is Boeing can’t make us do anything. You get to establish just how bad an offer you’re willing to allow with your votes on the contract. Has Boeing been successful in their campaign to convince you that engineers and techs are overcompensated for what they do, even though they claim to acknowledge your value with rhetoric? If the company succeeds in its effort to fool you into thinking that, then Boeing has already won and you’ll never see the end of takeaway offers from here on out.
Thanks again John for the opportunity to weigh in. All this takes up a bunch of time, doesn’t it? Too bad we don’t just leave it to our respective negotiation teams to sort this out like we’re supposed to instead of working around the collective bargaining process and each having to invest so much effort to engage with the members directly. Sure, you’ve got a much broader scope than I’ll reach, but who knows - maybe my reply will go viral. I do know that everyone who spoke to me about your note told me it engendered the opposite reaction of what I think you intended. So, thanks for helping with SPEEA’s cause.
Yours in solidarity,
Dist E14 SPEEA Area Rep