Ryan Rule, a former Council Rep was elected to the Executive Board in 2008 and as SPEEA President in 2014.
Rule has good advice for members when it comes to SPEEA.
“Get involved! Whenever something doesn’t make sense or you don’t like the way things are going, find a way to fix it or a committee to join that can make decisions which will have an impact on your issue or concern,” he said.
In Rule’s case, his colleagues were interested in SPEEA but weren’t up-to-date on the issues. “By becoming a Council Rep, I gained exposure to what’s going on in the union and was better able to provide useful information to the members with whom I work on a daily basis.”
His goals for SPEEA include getting more members involved, particularly newer employees, and keeping waste and excess to a minimum. “I want to make sure members get high value for their dues.”
Since starting at Boeing in 2001, Rule has worked in many areas, including Phantom Works, Connexion by Boeing and Integrated Defense Systems. He’s currently a design and analysis engineer at Boeing Commercial Airplanes (BCA) Commercial Aviation Services.
Rule earned three Bachelor of Science degrees from Missouri University of Science and Technology in physics, applied mathematics and computer science. He holds two Master of Science degrees from the University of Washington in physics and computer science/engineering.
He was born and raised in California’s central valley. For hobbies, Rule enjoys traveling and scuba diving. His family includes his wife, Carrie, SPEEA NW Council secretary, and her son, who attends Aviation High School. The couple also have two young daughters.
Jimmie Mathis joined SPEEA shortly after starting at The Boeing Company in 1978. He was first elected as a SPEEA Council officer more than 20 years ago and has been elected to almost every Council office.
Mathis wanted to get involved in SPEEA to help support members. He believes in the power of the union to help improve working conditions and protect workers in the bargaining units from unjust discipline and harassment.
At Boeing, Mathis is a bearing engineer supporting commercial programs and many non-commercial programs. As chairman of the SAE Bearing Standards Group (ACBG), he supports standard parts for commercial, industrial and defense applications. He mentors employees in Boeing and other groups.
Mathis has worked in aluminum alloy development, providing new alloys used on the 757 and 767, as well as upgrading and automating test laboratories. He has also been a principle lead engineer for IT and computing groups in addition to specifying bearing applications and developing new bearings and alloys.
He graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in metallurgical engineering and has a background in mining engineering.
Mathis also likes to be involved in SPEEA’s legislative activities in Washington state and Washington D.C. His outside interests include aviation design and flying, as well as back-country recreation.
As a former chair of both the SPEEA and Northwest Councils, Joel Funfar brings a unique perspective to the Executive Board.
“From what I learned as a Council Rep and what I learned from others, I hope to help make the union stronger,” he said.
Funfar, who joined SPEEA in 1991, started as an Area Rep, and then served as a co-site coordinator and picket captain at Plant II, Seattle, during the 40-day strike in 2000. He became a Council Rep for Plant II in 2000.
He served two terms as SPEEA Council Chair (2009 and 2011). He was also elected SPEEA Council secretary, Northwest Council chair and Northwest Council secretary.
Funfar, a lab tech in the EO&T engineering labs at Plant II, served on the Tech Negotiation Teams in 2008 and 2012. He’s also been involved in many other committees, including chair of the Legislative and Public Affairs (L&PA) and Organizational Planning.
In addition, Funfar is a SPEEA IFPTE vice president, a delegate to the county and state labor councils and King County Airport Roundtable.
Funfar received the Stephen Pezzini Helping Other People Excel (HOPE) award in 2009 for his work both with SPEEA and the community, including Aviation High School.
Born in Rapid City, S.D., his family moved to the Northwest in 1968. He attended Green River Community College in Auburn, Wash., and lives in Enumclaw, Wash.
In his spare time, he enjoys music and car racing, as well as history – particularly labor and World War II.
MW Regional VP
Keith Covert, a lead engineer on the Airbus 350 at Spirit AeroSystems, sees the value of unions fighting for middle-class wages, benefits and overtime.
“Based on the data we have, it can show a good correlation – the higher the union member density, the better the wages,” he said. “That’s really the middle class.”
Covert, who started his career at Boeing Wichita nearly 30 years ago, joined SPEEA in 1999 during a contentious round of contract talks.“We could see the possibility of problems and wanted to be sure to become members and vote on the contract,” he said.
He also sees firsthand what SPEEA and unions have done to help. He knew engineers who remembered when they didn’t get paid for overtime. The SPEEA Wichita Engineering Unit (WEU) contract calls for straight time plus $6.50 per hour.
No small thing is a contract that locks in health insurance benefits. “I’ve seen what’s happened with insurance related to contract negotiations,” he said.
Covert also serves on the SPEEA-Spirit Joint Oversight Committee.
In addition to fishing and hunting, Covert’s other hobbies include working on his 1974 Ford Bronco, 1965 Ford F100 four wheel-drive pickup and 1972 Mustang Coupe.
He’s married to Judith, and they have two sons, Keith Covert II, and Harrison.
NW Regional VP
Brent McFarlane has served in multiple SPEEA leadership roles prior to being elected as a Northwest regional Vice President for SPEEA.
He served on the 2008 and 2012 SPEEA Northwest Negotiation Teams, was an Everett Council Rep for 12 years prior and is currently an active member of the Northwest Joint Workforce Committee. “On the SPEEA Workforce Committee, I’ve focused on bringing issues and voices from the membership to company representatives at Joint workforce meetings, such as the past years ongoing company campaign to outsource NW jobs to other states and offshore supplier companies” he said.
As chair of the SPEEA Legislative and Public Affairs Committee (third term), he’s represented SPEEA on many issues, including trade policy, fair labor standards, collective bargaining rights and H-1B guest worker visas, in meetings with lawmakers and their political staff. Since becoming active during SPEEA’s 2000 Strike he has often been active in support of other labor unions and community movements for economic and social justice. As a Washington State and MLK County Labor Delegate he has voiced many issues impacting SPEEA members to the County and State Labor Councils. Brent is also a member of the NW Negotiations Prep Committee for 2016 Negotiations.
“Together, we can make a difference, advocating for aerospace careers, good benefits and helping to promote new opportunities for our current and future members.”
A member of the Technical Unit, he currently works for BCA Supplier Liaison Engineering in Everett.
He has a constant interest in the arts, gardenening and local farmers markets year round. He and his wife and fellow traveller Barbara Phinney are active in their North Seattle community.
NW Regional VP
Northwest Vice President Shannon Deacon is no stranger to labor activism. She previously served as SPEEA Council chair, Everett Council Rep and member of numerous leadership teams and committees.
“It’s been a good environment for me, to support what I believe in,” she said. “I like to be able to help people and be a part of positive change.”
Shannon, a liaison engineer on the 787 program, started at Boeing in 2005. She worked on the F-22 program before transitioning to design engineering on the 787 (lavatories, galleys and floor panels). She is currently a Material Review Board (MRB) Liaison Engineer on the 787.
She likes representing SPEEA in different forums with management, such as the Ed Wells Partnership Leadership Team, Everett Roundtable and Employee Community Fund (ECF) Everett Site Leadership Team. “It’s a unique opportunity to form these relationships on behalf of members. I wanted to take it to the next level,” she said.
“We have challenges ahead – now more than ever we need our members united. I wanted to be a part of getting members engaged at another level.”
Shannon grew up in Minnesota and graduated from the University of Southern California (USC) with a degree in aerospace engineering. She’s an avid softball player as well as indoor soccer player who also loves skiing and snowboarding. She is a martial artist and enjoys scuba diving, and volunteering. She and her husband, Mark Deacon, also a SPEEA activist, live in Marysville.
NW Regional VP
Nikki Wagener, Northwest regional vice president and stress analyst at Boeing Everett, knows firsthand what can happen to health benefits and pension at work when you don’t have a union contract.
“Growing up in Oklahoma, my childhood mentors taught me to be anti-union,” she said. “My viewpoint changed while working for a non-union employer and receiving a reduction in benefits… I learned the value of a collective bargaining agreement.”
Wagener joined SPEEA in 2011 after starting at The Boeing Company. She became more involved following the 2012 contract negotiations, because she wanted to improve communications in her district.
When she found out her district had a vacant Council seat, she successfully ran for the position in May 2013 and in 2015, she was elected SPEEA Council treasurer. She also serves on a number of SPEEA committees, including the Action and Communication Taskforce (ACT).
Wagener, who works on the 777X (section 45), credits ACT with helping her find her ‘voice.’ She encourages other members to speak up, step up and get involved.
She also advises members to seek union representation (Weingarten rights) if they’re called into a meeting that could lead to discipline. “We’re here to serve you,” she said. In addition, she asks members to talk to their Council Reps about other issues, such as motions voted on by the Council, as well. “The only way the CRs can represent you is if they know your point of view.”
Wagener’s hobbies include music, travel, alpine skiing, camping and golf. She plays flute, piccolo and alto sax for the Shoreline and Lynnwood Community Bands. She earned her aerospace engineering degree from the University of Texas, Arlington.