Questions laid off SPEEA-represented employees at Spirit are asking


Should I sign the severance agreement?
Employees laid off on July 25 have 45 days from Aug. 8 to make a personal decision whether to sign the severance agreement.  Take the time you need to review your options with SPEEA staff and other trusted advisors of your choosing.  Keep in mind that SPEEA is still reviewing all options for legal and contractual challenges and if you sign the agreement too early, you may waive your rights to seek further remedy. Ultimately, only you can decide what is best for you and your family.

I am part of a pending retiree lawsuit between SPEEA and Boeing. Will my signing of the
layoff settlement agreement waive my rights to continue participation in this lawsuit? 

No.  SPEEA contracts give bridge benefits for early retirement medical and pension benefits for laid-off employees who were 49 to 55 years old with 10 years of Boeing service. Boeing denied these benefits to hundreds of union-represented employees who were laid off from Boeing as a result of the 2005 sale to Spirit AeroSystems. SPEEA initiated the lawsuit in 2005. Spirit was dismissed from the suit a while ago leaving it only against Boeing. While signing the severance agreement with Spirit AeroSystems should not affect your participation in this lawsuit, SPEEA lawyers are attempting to get a clarification to that effect so you can be sure.

Will I be able to utilize the career transition services through Spirit if I do not sign the agreement?
Spirit is refusing to allow laid off employees who do not sign the severance agreement to take advantage of this assistance.

What about other assistance?
Additional information is being added to the SPEEA website as it becomes available. From the top navigation bar on the home page, look under Member Tools and then click Layoff Information. The website address is:

Are more layoffs expected?
The employer has not notified SPEEA of any additional layoffs. If we learn of any additional layoffs we will notify SPEEA represented employees as soon as reasonably possible.


Pending Appeals
(Performance Review, Retention Rating, Designation)

What happens to my appeal(s) if I sign the severance agreement?
SPEEA is evaluating possible legal challenges to this process and, as a result of such a challenge, the severance agreement could be declared invalid.  If that happens SPEEA will advise you of the effects of such a declaration. (See “SPEEA Fighting Back” below.)

What are my appeal rights and who makes the final decision? 
The intent of the contractual appeal processes is to provide an unbiased and fair process for SPEEA-represented employees to challenge their performance review, retention rating, or designation. SPEEA believes it is highly unlikely, based on current actions, that the employer will live by their appeal commitments.  Instead, the appeal process now seems to be reduced to the company simply going through the motions, where regardless of the persuasiveness of the arguments made, Spirit will reject almost, if not all, appeals. SPEEA will continue to move ahead with each employee’s appeal for those who choose to move forward. It is unclear at this time how laid off employees will functionally participate in the appeal process and Spirit continues to stall processing of these appeals.

Performance Review
When an employee disagrees with their performance review, the union may “involve” the Human Resources Director or their designee but ultimately SPIRIT has the final say on whether to make any adjustments. 

Retention Rating
The final appeal decision resides with a three person panel with the deciding majority being Spirit. The panel includes:
1. Workforce Skill Team Strategist or HR Generalist
2. Labor Relations Representative
3. Union Representative

The same appeal process that is in place for retention rating appeals also applies to designation appeals.  An employee who is designated loses their recall rights and, if eligible, their 20-year retention bump.  Recall right contractual provisions provide that prior to Spirit hiring from outside the company, including hiring contractors, they must first offer positions to employees who were laid off from the same job classification in the last 3 years or less. You cannot be designated unless you have received a retention rating of “C.” 

Benefits and Retirement 

How can I get answers to my health care and retirement questions?
Matt Kempf, SPEEA Benefits Director, will be presenting a retirement seminar and available for Q & A on Wednesday, Aug. 7 from 4-6 p.m. and Thursday, Aug. 8 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. or 3-5 p.m. at the SPEEA office for SPEEA-represented employees. Check the Midwest Calendar and your home email for additional information.

Will I receive health care coverage after August 8th?
Your health care coverage will end on the last day of the month in which you have your last day of active employment. For most of the employees who received notices on July 25, your last day is Aug. 8. This means your health care coverage ends on the last day of August. As layoff is a COBRA “qualifying event,” you and your dependents may continue medical coverage through COBRA for up to 18 months by paying the required premiums. If you obtain new dependents while on COBRA, you will have the same opportunity to add them just as you did when you were an active employee.

After a COBRA-qualifying event, the company notifies you of your COBRA rights by mail. Spirit states that this should come to you within three weeks following your separation. Make sure to keep the envelope and the contents of the COBRA notification for your records. You should carefully read any information you receive about COBRA. Each individual has 60 days from the qualifying event to elect COBRA medical and/or dental coverage.  If elected, then COBRA continuation coverage and premiums are retroactive to the date of lost coverage. COBRA rates for Spirit employees vary based on the plan you have chosen. Because of the 60-day opportunity to elect, most individuals will delay enrolling in COBRA until they have incurred more in the plan’s reimbursable costs than the respective retroactive COBRA premiums.

For more information, you may examine your federal rights to COBRA at the Department of Labor (DOL) website.

What about other benefits, such as life insurance? 
Basic Life Insurance, Supplemental Life Insurance, Basic Accidental, Death and Dismemberment Insurance, Supplemental Accidental Death and Dismemberment Insurance and Business Travel Accident Insurance, Short-term Disability and Basic and Supplemental Long-term Disability will end after the termination of your employment with Spirit.  They will notify you of your conversion rights for Life and Accidental Death and Dismemberment Insurance coverages within 31 days after coverage ends. Conversion is very expensive, and you have a limited amount of time to convert your coverage. You should carefully read any information you receive regarding life insurance conversion.
Financial Support 
How can I get answers to my unemployment questions?
Claims can be filled out online at: Kansas Department of Labor claim.
Please direct all of your unemployment questions to the Kansas Department of Labor in Wichita at:

(316) 383-9947 Monday -  Friday
8:00 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.
Closed on state holidays.

Are there other employment opportunity resources available to me?
Contact the Workforce Alliance of South Central Kansas at: 316-771-6800 or on line at

Does SPEEA offer support if I am facing a financial crisis?
The SPEEA Cares Fund was established to help SPEEA-represented employees facing immediate financial needs. Members inform SPEEA of the need and if the need meets certain requirements, a support check is issued. You are eligible up to one year after layoff. The maximum distribution is $500 and you may only receive funds once. Contact for additional information.

What are ways I can protect myself financially?

If you have loans such as a mortgage, student loan, car loan or other loan debt, contact the lending institution and let them know that you have been laid off. Ask them what options are available to delay payment. Some lenders will allow laid off employees to make interest-only payments. Other lenders sometimes allow you to ‘skip’ a payment and then add a payment onto the end of the loan. For additional information contact the Kansas Consumer Credit Counseling Service at 316-265-200.

Can I use money in my 401k account to help me financially while I am unemployed? 
Generally, if you take money out of a 401k account before age 59½, the sum you withdraw will be subject to both federal and state income taxes and a 10% penalty. However, the penalty does not apply to funds withdrawn from Spirit’s 401k if you leave Spirit during or after the calendar year in which you reached age 55. This penalty exception does not apply if you withdraw funds from the Boeing 401k, because you are no longer a Boeing employee.


SPEEA Fighting Back

  • Unfair Labor Practice Charge: SPEEA is investigating all of Spirit’s actions for possible unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board. 

  • Layoff Negotiations: Federal law requires that Spirit negotiate the effects of layoff with SPEEA. SPEEA has submitted a “demand to bargain” letter to Spirit and will update members as soon as they have responded to the demand letter. Negotiable items may include severance agreements, career support services, voluntary layoffs, supplemental health care, transitions for retirees, recall rights, and more.

  • Appeal Process: SPEEA is reviewing a possible challenge to the appeal process and also filed a ULP charge against Spirit for their action of placing a gag order on managers during the performance appeal process.

  • Designation: As part of its legal analysis, SPEEA is looking at how the company used this process.

  • Discriminatory Targeting: SPEEA is investigating whether protected class members may have been improperly targeted in this layoff. If you want to get a legal analysis of your rights under the anti-discrimination statutes, SPEEA encourages you to seek independent legal counsel.


What You Can Do Now

  • Appeals: If you have a pending appeal, please work with SPEEA staff to make sure they have submitted all the documentation
    necessary to fully process your appeal.

  • Get Connected: Make sure SPEEA has your home email address and best phone contact number. Check your email regularly for updates.
    Sign up for SPEEA Home Email

  • Attend: SPEEA meetings when invited.

  • Contact: SPEEA staff when you have questions or concerns.

  • Discuss:  All of your individual options with SPEEA staff before making a decision to sign the severance agreement.

  • Be Heard! Talk to your family, friends, neighbors, and write your elected officials. Tell them how Spirit laid off employees and
    immediately ushered them out the door.


SPEEA Main Hall
15205 52nd Ave S
Seattle, WA 98188

Tel: 206.433.0991
FAX: 206.248.3990

Office Hours:

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FAX: 316.682.4668

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