SPEEA Wichita Technical & Professional Unit rejects contract offer
After five weeks of negotiations, the Wichita Technical and Professional Unit (WTPU) members rejected the company's offer of a labor contract and are sending the Negotiation Team back to the bargaining table.
With a 984-912 vote, the workers voted down the three-year agreement despite their leadership's advice to accept it. The workers sent a message that they were unhappy with paying for long- and short-term disability, and not having supplemental life insurance offered by the company; unimpressed with the guaranteed wage increase values; and unwilling to wait until January for improvements in medical benefits.
The rejected contract offered a $1,500 signing bonus and merit pools of 4.5, 4.5, and 4 percent for the next three years. Workers were guaranteed raises of $500 a year for each year of the agreement. The contract offer also included improvements in dental coverage, co-payments, retirement benefits, and out-of-pocket expenses for medical coverage
This vote was significant, as it was the first time the Technical and Professional Unit, which represents more than 4,200 workers in Wichita, had voted on a contract offer. Since a strike authorization vote was not taken, a walkout is not an immediate possibility.
The Negotiation Team spent the next week polling the members to clarify what particular issues are of concern to them. But there is no guarantee that Boeing will have a better offer in the next round of negotiations.
Company changes non-industrial leave policy
SPEEA-represented engineers will be able to use non-industrial leave with pay (NON-IND) for partial day absences starting May 4th without having to first exhaust their unreserved sick leave accounts. Its use will be subject to management approval in the same manner as sick leave.
SPEEA members should take great pride in this change. The Company first agreed to this change during negotiations subcommittee work. It was never formalized at the main table, due in large part to the breakdown of talks that ultimately resulted in our 40-day strike.
Thanks to the diligence of some of our members who brought this item to our attention, we filed a grievance on the issue. The resulting dialogue with the Company resulted in management agreeing with SPEEA on the use of NON-IND beginning on May 4th.
The Company could have chosen to aggressively fight this issue. Instead, they chose to enter a principled dialogue on the matter and ultimately chose to adopt these more favorable terms for SPEEA-represented employees.
We at SPEEA are hopeful that this bodes well for future partnering efforts.[RP]
SPEEA membership doubles in less than 2 years!
President's Corner by Craig Buckham
Wichita negotiations and the SPEEA budget are keeping us busy
Our new unit in Wichita rejected their initial contract offer from The Boeing Company. This was by a narrow margin. One of the concerns expressed by members in the unit was that the Company's offer did not demonstrate, in terms of dollars and cents, enough of a benefit for having a union.
Our negotiators have carefully evaluated the responses of the unit to our post-vote survey. They are working now with the Company to achieve the necessary improvements.
We, as members, can help the negotiators by recruiting more members in the Wichita Technical and Professional Unit, and by being even more visible in the workplace. We can also help by understanding and appreciating some of the non-monetary features in the proposed contract.
Even if the contract wages and benefits were identical to the previous non-represented wages and benefits, a contract provides security and stability. When you have a contract, wages and benefits cannot be arbitrarily changed. Non-represented employees are in constant fear of take-always.
In addition, the SPEEA contract offer included the "just cause" protection from arbitrary termination. You can still be fired if you have a union contract, but our contracts guarantee that you can't be fired without good reason. Our contract also provides opportunity to appeal certain ratings and job decisions, and provides access to representation during any discipline meetings.
Of the thousands of people helped over the years by the "just cause" provisions in SPEEA contracts, few thought in advance that they would ever need it; but when trouble happened, most were very thankful that SPEEA help was available. It is hard to put a dollar value on these contract features, but from my perspective, they are worth a great deal more than the cost of membership.
SPEEA recently completed work on a new budget. Elsewhere in this SPOTLITE we present much of the information about what we expect to accomplish with your dues. I am proud and thankful that, at least for now, we can carry on without changing the dues formula.
There has been some rumbling in various quarters about the "windfall" from Agency Fee and the lack of a rebate to the members in the presence of this new revenue. The line of questioning usually goes something like this: "Since you are getting all this extra money what about lowering our dues?" The short answer is: "Because we are not the same SPEEA."
Study the budget and judge for yourself. But, with the members' overwhelming ratification of affiliation with the AFL/CIO, we have our IFPTE fee. With our members' overwhelming ratification of the SPEEA reorganization, and with Council approval, we have costs of organizing the technical community in other Boeing locations. With our members' solidarity and resolve in conducting a 40-day strike, we have a fully depleted Negotiation Fund to replenish, and only two years to do it.
SPEEA 2001 is different than SPEEA of the 1990s. But, thanks to Agency Fee, we are able to operate it on the dues formula of the 1990s. Our mission is to make SPEEA an effective, high-value union, not necessarily the low-cost union. The fact that, at least so far, we are doing it on less than $25/month is quite an accomplishment. It's an accomplishment that should make us all proud.
Is Boeing way behind the curve, or in front?
By BILL VIRGIN
Editor's note: This column appeared Wednesday, March 28, 2001, one week after Boeing announced plans to move corporate headquarters out of Seattle and production of 757 fuselages to Wichita. It is linked here with permission.
Members speak out
What good can come from this move?
Is the head of human resources moving?
It is obvious Boeing expects more labor unrest in the Seattle area. Did you ever wonder if the words "trader" and "traitor" are homonyms purely by coincidence?
I hope the union and its members are ready for more changes. This will not be the last word or move from the top.
Technical worker, Everett
When and if Boeing decides on a site, we should obtain property adjacent to it or right across the street from it.
Engineer, Seattle D.C.
We should elect company CEOs and their administrations. It's only fair, since their decisions can have such a big impact on employees, the products we make, and our customers.
Now you all in Seattle will be outplant folks, like us in Wichita!
I found this decision a clear indicator of how badly Boeing upper management has slipped out of touch with the overall "Boeing concept" and the historical image of the company.
Technical worker, Tuscon, Arizona
It's a sad commentary, that people are no longer a valued asset.
Technical worker, Frederickson
This appears to me again to be strong influence from the MacDac side. Maybe we should say good riddance. Can they do less damage here or in a removed location?
What does SPEEA get from our local labor councils?
When we affiliated with the IFPTE, the SPEEA Council voted to join various local labor councils where our members reside. Our members have appropriately asked what our dues to these councils buy us. I have served as a delegate to one of these (the King County Labor Council), and I would like to say what I see are the pros and cons. Benefits include information and cooperation, and the price of these is money and political action.
Speaking on political action, SPEEA does not endorse political candidates, whereas the Labor Councils do. SPEEA does, however, get involved in politics to the extent that we have a Legislative & Public Affairs Committee which analyzes pending federal and state legislation. That committee decides whether or not to recommend our SPEEA Council take a position on a particular issue, as it relates to SPEEA's goals and objectives. We have passed on to the L&PA many opportunities for involvement that we picked up in KCLC discussions.
We get a huge benefit from information the councils give us. By attending a KCLC meeting, we discovered that those unemployed by the earthquake or any other federally-acknowledged disaster were eligible for immediate benefits, and we published this fact to our members. We are aware of resources we can use when labor troubles arise because the local labor councils inform us of these things, especially resources available through them. I have taken countless notes at KCLC meetings on little things we need to know and disseminate. And we have done so, to our benefit.
We get a huge benefit from cooperation we get from other member unions of the councils. We got a good practical introduction to this during our strike last year. We got food donations, telephone network hubs, money for those in great need, media exposure, training for our pickets, and other help. We can put a dollar figure on some of that - at least $100,000 from the local labor councils in food and money (not counting the large donations from other labor unions for our cause). And we have returned the favor when the Newspaper Guild and others have called on us for help, so that this cooperation will continue.
The availability of this support gives us an edge we didn't have before we affiliated with the IFPTE.
Information and cooperation lead to improved quality of life for us all. By participating in the various levels of labor councils, we gain all of these benefits. I feel strongly that we should continue to "pay our dues."
/s/ Joseph Gregg
SPEEA Council Rep (District B-10), SPEEA KCLC delegate
Council approves annual SPEEA Budget
By Richard Taylor, SPEEA Treasurer
Keeping an organization the size of SPEEA running smoothly costs money. The reality of that becomes clear every year during our annual budget process.
Last month, the SPEEA Council approved a $5.9 million budget for fiscal year 2001 to 2002. It is the largest operating budget ourunion has ever approved.
Rising membership and the implementation of Agency Fee certainly played a role in the increase in union income. But at the same time, an overall expansion in the services provided and the basic costs of servicing one of the few expanding unions in our country produced a corresponding increase in expenses.
SPEEA today is not the same union it was 10 or even two years ago. Yes, we represent about the same number of Boeing employees. However, our dues-paying membership has doubled. We have a new bargaining unit in Wichita. Workplace issues have increased. And, very thankfully, we are now affiliated with an international union and maintain representatives on many local and state labor councils.
Still, SPEEA members today pay some of the lowest union dues in the nation. More important, members receive good value for the dues they pay.
Recently, in a conversation regarding union budgets with an official from the Washington Education Association, it was related how SPEEA members pay $24.14 a month in dues, or just about one-half of the $42 to $62 paid by teachers. The WEA official's comment was direct and simple, "How do you get anything done?" he asked. The answer was just as simple and direct. SPEEA gets a lot done for members every day.
Here are a few of the things about our budget that allow us to get so much done for members.
Like any organization, our staff is our greatest asset, resource and expense. At the beginning of fiscal year 2000/2001, we had 22 employees. (We were also a union representing less than 20,000 workers and with less than 10,000 dues-paying members.) With 3.5 full-time contract administrators, the average full-time load for each was 5,700 employees. During the past year we've managed to add one contract administrator in Everett, another in Wichita and two in Seattle. When the new Wichita bargaining unit is factored in, we've managed to decrease the full-time load for each contract administrator to about 3,300 employees. This is still about double the number of Boeing employees assigned to each of the IAM's union business representatives. Clearly, we still have room for improvement.
Based on our experience during the 40-day strike, we also hired a Communications Director and a Labor Representative. These are two areas that our Council and members have asked for improvement. Both areas have shown improvement and we expect those improvements to continue. Finally, we hired a much-needed receptionist in Wichita.
With the exception of the Wichita personnel, all of these new staff members were squeezed into existing space. One area that has not been fully addressed is the need for additional office support staff at our Seattle headquarters.
It's easy to think our union could work as well with fewer people. It's certainly one way to keep costs down. But, as powerful as members are, volunteers cannot do everything. The day-to-day operation of SPEEA falls on the shoulders of our professional union staff. And, like Boeing, we will only be as good as the people we hire to help us.
IFPTE & labor council dues
In 1999, SPEEA members voted to join the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (IFPTE). Few would argue that without this move the strike of 2000 could have been much different. Labor community support, including money and visits by AFL-CIO President John Sweeney and key visits by Secretary-Treasurer Richard Trumka would not have occurred without this important affiliation.
Affiliation dues with
the IFPTE cost SPEEA $1.90 per member each month. Still, per our
affiliation agreement, this
We have also forged worthwhile relationships with several labor councils, including the Wichita-Hutchinson Labor Council; Washington State Labor Council; King, Snohomish, Spokane and Pierce county labor councils, and the Northwest Oregon Labor Council. These valuable associations will cost members about $101,000 during the coming year.
The regional, national and international support and exposure brought through these affiliations with other unions and organizations makes this money very well spent. However, it also means that while our union surplus will continue to grow during the coming year, we are looking at a break-even budget when we begin paying full IFPTE dues in November 2003.
This year's budget also includes $40,000 for a striker relief fund. This money is available to assist other unions during their labor disputes. This is part of our continued effort to repay the goodwill other unions showed SPEEA members during our strike.
Supplies & office costs
More members mean more mailings, newsletters and visibility items. Postage alone during the past year nearly doubled from about $75,000 a year to more than $130,000 a year. The increased membership numbers produce smaller but similar increases in the amount of paper and other office supplies. The total cost for all these items is budgeted at $362,000 for the coming year.
Building & negotiations costs
SPEEA headquarters has proven to be one of the best investments our union ever made. However, while we have been able to add new employees without increasing space, this will not hold true forever. In recent years we were able to amass a small building reserve fund. This fund stood at about $300,000 before the strike.
To maintain the Striker Relief Fund during the strike, we borrowed some money from the building fund. SPEEA also used all the money from the Negotiations Reserves. Negotiations Reserves are funds specifically set aside to cover negotiations costs, including the costs associated with a strike. We are now working to rebuild the Negotiations Reserves and pay back the Building Fund. We expect to have paid back the Building Fund by the end of this year. We are rebuilding the Negotiations Reserve Fund as well.
While SPEEA headquarters has served the union well, it also must be maintained and, if our union continues to grow, we will need additional space. The SPEEA facilities committee is currently evaluating these needs and the options that are available.
The process to determine the annual SPEEA budget is long and detailed. Working with SPEEA staff, your SPEEA Finance Committee held a number of meetings. We received dozens of messages from Council Representatives and SPEEA members. The resulting document is based on the very best estimates of income and expenses available. It is rigid enough to provide oversight, yet flexible enough to deal with emergencies and unforeseen needs. It has been my pleasure to serve the members throughout this important process.
In the mid 1970's SPEEA's staff began expanding and we were outgrowing our office space in the Rainier Beach area. A "Relocation Committee" was chartered to canvas the greater Seattle area for property or existing buildings. After visiting many existing buildings and sites, nothing met the criteria established by the committee. And the costs of remodeling such buildings was prohibitive.
A site was found in Tukwila that was found to be most centrally located for the geographic distribution of our membership at the time. It had easy access to freeways. Plus it was close to Boeing's Corporate offices, where many meetings were held. Plans were drawn up for office space which included adequate meeting space for our committees and monthly Council meetings.
Next step was to determine financing. There were several options put forward. We could borrow the money and pay interest for 20 or 25 years (costing each member over $300 each in the long run). But the BEST option put forward was to assess members a "building surcharge" of $5 per month for a maximum 12 months - costing each member only $60, but raising enough money to pay cash for the building.
A referendum was sent out to members in March 1979, asking if they would approve of this financing method. Nearly 67% of members voted YES, and the $5 per month surcharge began with the April 1979 paycheck. Even though SPEEA at the time was an open shop union (where members could join and quit at any time), our percentage membership was maintained throughout the year - and when the surcharge ceased in March 1980, we had collected enough to purchase the land and build our building.
In June 1980, SPEEA staff packed up and moved to the new building in Tukwila, Washington where we have resided ever since. There is a book in our lobby commemorating the names of every SPEEA who donated their $5 per month during that one-year period.
NEWS FROM MIDWEST COUNCIL
Midwest Regional VP speaks about the future
By Bill Hartig, SPEEA WTPU Council Rep (District N-8)
Joe Newberry was recently elected as Executive Board Vice-President for the Midwest region, replacing Doug Ritter. A 27-year Boeing employee, Joe has worked primarily on Military projects, including B-52 weapons integration, B-1 training simulators, and KC-135 avionics; he's currently working on the B-52 Avionics Mid-life Improvement (AMI) program. He's been married to his wife, Sheryl, for 28 years this June, and they have two daughters: Julianne, a college junior majoring in Elementary Education, and Jennifer, a high school junior.
QUESTION: We notice that you didn't join the engineering union immediately after hiring on at Boeing. Why was that?
Newberry: In the mid-70s, when I started at Boeing, my only exposure to unions had been from my dad (who was a somewhat lukewarm IAM member) and from the media. So I did not join initially. Then I saw the effects of several years of rapid inflation during the '70s and I wanted to have a say about the Wichita Engineering Association (WEA) contract under which I was represented. The only way to have a say is to join and then participate.
QUESTION: And participate you did: you were an Area Rep for fifteen years. Why did you choose to volunteer?
Newberry: In the mid-1980's, I became more interested in how our union operated, so I began attending meetings on a more regular basis. Our "Contract Administrator" asked me to begin distributing the monthly newsletters in my building and I eventually became identified as an area rep. When we affiliated with SPEEA, I immediately became an area rep primarily so I could feel like I had some idea of what was happening.
QUESTION: Much has happened with SPEEA over the past few years: the engineers strike, the election of the new unit in Wichita, the restructuring of the union into regions. What do you see as your primary goal as the newly-formed Midwest Region's executive officer?
Newberry: My goal is to represent all bargaining unit members equally, including the Engineers unit, the Wichita Technical & Professional unit, and the Irving bargaining unit. In general, this simply means that I will try to be neutral and not base my actions on how it affects the Engineers versus the Professionals versus the Technicals. I hope to put everyone's interest on an equal platform. For Irving, I want to support what others have said and started, specifically encouraging the Irving Council Reps to participate in the Midwest Council meetings.
When the Engineering unit first affiliated with SPEEA, Wichita was the first large, non-Puget Sound location in SPEEA's history. We had to help define what out-plant groups needed to feel that they were a part of the union. I suspect we in Wichita now need to examine how the Irving unit looks at SPEEA and the new regional concept since they have had little previous contact with us. Eventually, I hope to be able to say that I represented everyone in each bargaining unit as equally as I possibly could.
QUESTION: Finally, what do you believe is one of the important issues facing SPEEA today?
Newberry: Increased membership and member involvement in our union. We are primarily a volunteer organization, which increases our ownership in the collective bargaining process. By having active member involvement, we can make "working together" become a meaningful concept both for employees and for The Boeing Company. Also, increased member involvement allows union responsibilities to be shared among a larger group of members and helps ensure that democracy is practiced within SPEEA. We should frequently remind our members that we are a democratic body: SPEEA should be a union comprised of members that are involved, not some international organization comprised of only dues-paying members. This concept only works well when the members are involved.
SPEEA Wichita Engineering Unit holds joint quarterly labor review
By Burt Shah, SPEEA WEU Council Rep (District N-5)
The quarterly business review meeting with SPEEA Wichita Engineering Unit representatives and Boeing Wichita engineering management was held in March. Management discussed the labor outlook in their organizations.
Robert Waner, Director of BCA Product Definition, stated that employment in the Define organization will increase to more than 1,600 by September 2001. Engineering employment will increase by about 100. In 2001, Define is concentrating on implementing Lean Define with the target of having a lean enterprise by 2002. The goal of the Define organization is 50% reduction in costs through achievement of the Lean strategy. As Commercial Engineering incorporates lean processes, engineers will do more work related to Design For Manufacturing (DFM). This will accomplish more work at less cost.
Paul Beckmann, Director of Engineering, Military Programs, stated that there are 980 employees in his organization at this time. However, he needs to reach 1,150 by the end of the year. The skills most needed in his organization are electrical engineers and systems engineers. Thirty engineers were hired in the last two months and management is working on a reward program for successful referrals from current employees. One of the major projects that the Military Programs are working on is the 767 tanker, a seven-year program that will provide the capability for conversion to a freighter, combi, as well as a refueling plane. The market potential is 100 planes.
Leroy Hampleman, Director of Information Services, stated that employment is stable in the information services organization. His organization supports all Wichita programs in information and computing. CATIA Version 5 and ENOVIA are being evaluated and should be ready for use next year.
Roland Bainbridge, Director of Engineering and Product Development, Wichita Modification Center, gave an overview of various new and existing programs. There were 353 heads in BAS as of January 2001 and employment appears to be stable for the rest of the year. Several customers have shown interest in 757 modifications similar to those done for DHL. The quality and on-time performance of BAS is worth a lot to the Boeing customers. There is a lot of competition in the modification work, however, BAS can be 25% higher than competitors and still get the contract due to the quality and speed of the work done.
Randy Kiser spoke on behalf of Dennis Dietz, Director, Manufacturing Research and Development (MR&D). He stated that MR&D is supporting the new 747/767 Struts and Nacelles commonality effort and that the employment and budget for MR&D has remained constant.
By Patti McKee, SPEEA WTPU Area Rep (District N-32)
You are walking, alone, down a path. The path winds along a riverbank, where no river existed before. This might scare you at first, as the unknown sometimes does. Then, curiosity sets in and the investigation begins.
You decide to sit and rest at the river's edge. When you look at the river, you see something completely foreign within it. Upstream, you recognize the face of a fellow traveler. You smile and say, "There's Bill." Downstream, you notice several other folks. Marcia, Earl, Lee - they are all there, with Hoyt and James nearby. There are many more faces, within the depths, that you do not recognize.
The river flows briskly towards its intended destination. You try to disrupt it, by throwing in a stone. The resulting ripple becomes less intense as it grows. The river has felt it, and absorbed the effect of the attack. The river flows, ever stronger.
As you look up, you see several other travelers along the riverbank. You watch intently as one or two of them go into the river. The river swells, while flowing ever stronger. You push a stick, straight up, into the sand, just offshore. The river changes course, just a tad - while it flows, ever stronger.
A thunderstorm arrives to rain upon the serene nature below. The river pulls you and all others into its fluid domain. You are welcomed by those already there. While rain pelts the surface of the river, you and those around you are protected, safe and calm.
As sunrise takes over from clouds, many remain within and some head for the shore. One man is accosted on his path by a cougar. From the river's depths, three people emerge. They stand for a moment between the cougar and the man. Assessing the situation and considering all options, they take each other's hands and form a circle around the man being threatened. The cougar senses the determination of the three. If he advances, they will take the object of his intent back into the river. If he follows, he will drown. So, the frustrated cougar saunters off. The three return to the river and with them, one very grateful man. The river widens, while flowing ever stronger.
While this may seem a fanciful tale, it is an important representation of our situation. The river is SPEEA's Wichita Technical & Professional Unit. It flows with life from the personalities that are its inhabitants - its members. This unit is working towards its destination of fair pay practices, working conditions, hours and benefits.
The unit will take a few hits, now and again. It will absorb attacks, change course, remain determined and thwart any intentional menace. The unit will protect every inclusive employee, whether you are a member within SPEEA, or walking alone, along your path. The power of this unit strengthens with each new member.
While we are already engaged in contract negotiations with Boeing, it would serve us all to build the largest possible membership. There is strength in numbers. Solidarity is a powerful thing. The company will see this and negotiate accordingly.
SPEEA members are not working for the union; we are working for ourselves - our future. Our future depends upon what we do today.
What are you doing today that will improve our future?
Join SPEEA Today!
SPEEA Activity Report
This report contains articles and information that outline what your SPEEA Staff and leadership have been doing for you recently. These summaries highlight the value of being represented by SPEEA.
Dependents "attending" school are covered
A SPEEA Area Rep recently called his Contract Administrator regarding a letter received from The Boeing Company by one of his co-workers/members. The topic of the letter was "Dependent Eligibility Notice" for dependents who have reached certification age on their parents health and welfare plans.
The letter stated specifically that:
". . . a dependent will continue to be eligible for coverage only if the dependent is unmarried and meets one of the following criteria:
Please refer to your summary Plan Description for Definitions."
The Area Rep's concern was that this information was inaccurate for employees represented by SPEEA and should not be distributed to members of our units. While the information regarding "full-time students" is accurate for the NON-represented employees, it should not have been distributed to employees we represent. On page A-4 of the Puget Sound agreements, "unmarried children may continue to be eligible from age 19 through 24 if they are attending school" without any requirement for it to be a full-time schedule.
While having several paycodes working with different plans might be confusing for the administrators for the Company, SPEEA is committed to ensure that the correct understanding is available to all our membership. [BR]
Two children, two families, two good results!
This summer we learned of two situations in which a young child was being denied insurance coverage.
The first case involved a pre-school age child with a severe, potentially life-threatening condition. The doctor had prescribed a relatively new medication that was not available through the Plan drug supplier. The medication is quite expensive, and the family was forced to pay more than $150 a month, out-of-pocket.
The Contract Administrator contacted the Boeing Benefits office. After a series of phone calls and emails, it was learned that the medication could be purchased by the Plan drug supplier and provided to the family as part of their regular coverage. The final result was a savings to the family of about $1,800 per year. This was especially good news since dad had recently been laid off and mom was supporting the family on one income.
We recently received this note: "I have received the first shipment of formula. Again thank you all for your help!"
The second case involved a young girl who had been denied coverage because the treating physician had not been accepted as a proper referral. The loss of coverage would have left the family a significant medical bill. Again, thanks to the efforts of company representatives, the family, and the Contract Administrator, the matter was resolved. The family now receives full coverage for their daughter's medical treatment.
We received this note from the grateful spouse: "Just wanted to thank you for helping assist my husband and I with our daughter's medical claim. With your follow up and ours, we finally resolved the claim that should have been paid seven months ago. We appreciate the support that you provided to us which resulted in action finally being taken." [MM]
Just cause" must be satisfied
A member who was informed of a disciplinary meeting and desired representation recently contacted SPEEA. Because of the unique scheduled time of the meeting, the local Contract Administrator chose to participate rather than dispatching a Council Rep.
During the course of the meeting, it became readily apparent to the Union representative that a conflict existed between the employee, the manager and the People representative. The Employer was issuing the employee a five-day suspension for "alleged verbal confrontations over the telephone". When questioned about corroboration of the alleged activities and the ensuing "good faith investigation", the parties ultimately concurred that they had different perceptions as to what an appropriate course of action would be. The employee served the suspension and the Union immediately grieved the issue.
At the Step 3 hearing, the Union argued that the Employer had: 1) failed to provide any evidence or corroboration that the incident occurred as alleged, and 2) chose to send the action straight to their internal discipline board without even performing a surface investigation. In summary, just cause was not satisfied.
SPEEA recently received
confirmation from Union Relations regarding the settlement of this
grievance. The member was made whole for the time lost while the
Union reinforced the concept of "good faith investigation" with
the Company counterparts. Once this issue was elevated to the appropriate
level of responsibility within the Company, those officials ensured
that the correct resolution for everyone was
SPEEA Does Make A Difference!
Overcoming insurance obstacles
One of the Contract Administrators (CA) at SPEEA recently received a couple of pleasant e-mails from members who had success in dealing with the Company insurance offices. The employees had originally come to this CA with seemingly unresolvable issues associated with the insurance office. Strategies were formulated on how to achieve positive solutions for these employees. Even though we can't guarantee success in every case we work, SPEEA's good relationship with the insurance office allows us an attentive audience with them in trying to make the right things happen.
The first scenario had one of our members changing from one insurance plan to another during the normal open period. Upon changing, the employee was charged $100 each month for his spouse having a medical plan available but not subscribing to it. This was obviously inaccurate since the spouse had alternative health care coverage for the last 20 years, and it did not change when the employee changed plans. When the employee brought it to the insurance office after the 3rd $100 deduction, their representative told the employee that they could not reimburse him retroactively. Unacceptable answer! Within 3 weeks of employing a more creative approach, the employee shared the feedback with the CA that we were successful and that the insurance office would rectify the reimbursement issue to his satisfaction.
The second scenario involved how the dental insurance paid for a service provided. After numerous communications regarding whether a procedure was "temporary" or "permanent" with substantiation from the dentist, the insurance carrier ultimately acknowledged that the claim would be paid in full as prescribed by the plan. Had the employee and the CA not utilized the appeals process, this employee would have been obligated to pay for the services rendered in their entirety.
Problems with medical insurance are typically some of the most difficult to deal with for employees. SPEEA staff has plenty of experience and proven success in working with the Company's insurance office to get issues resolved. While we can't guarantee the optimum results in every case, SPEEA can definitely assist the employee in getting the correct response. [BR]
SPEEA Does Make A Difference!
Coordination of benefit coverage
A new Boeing employee and SPEEA member recently approached his Contract Administrator regarding a health insurance concern. The employee immediately enrolled in the Traditional Medical Plan that had a $125 per person deductible for each family member in this employee's case. His spouse also had medical coverage that had a $500 per year deductible. When the employee contacted the Customer Service representative within Boeing, he was told that they would need to pay for both the $500 deductible plus the $125 prior to any coverage under the Traditional Medical Plan.
After an exchange of e-mail between the Contract Administrator and the benefits office regarding the Coordination of Benefits language spelled out in the Attachment to the contract, the Company concurred that the clerk misunderstood the original assertion and properly set up the employee's plan for dual coverage (coordination of benefits) by both husband and wife's plans.
The employee responded immediately thanking for "speedy assistance" acknowledging that it was truly a "tremendous relief". [BR]
Union intervention results in satisfactory resolution
An employee recently contacted the SPEEA offices after being informed of a pending disciplinary meeting that same day. To ensure that the employee had Union representation at the meeting, the Contract Administrator (CA) telephoned the appropriate People (HR) representative to gain an understanding as to what issue was being brought up at the meeting. Much to the CA's surprise, the Employer was intending to terminate the employee for an e-mail infraction predicating it on a Corrective Action Memo from 18 months prior. (CAMs typically only have a life span of 12 months when being used for further discipline.) The CA recommended that HR communicate this concern to the appropriate labor focals along with the message that we would carry this potential grievance all the way to arbitration.
Ultimately, the disciplinary meeting scheduled for later that afternoon was postponed. That provided the CA the opportunity to meet personally with the employee to review the entire scope of the employee's work situation. At that meeting, the employee shared that he was merely waiting for the implementation of the new retirement benefits negotiated in the latest SPEEA contract. Along with that, the employee shared a certain amount of apprehension for a major surgery that was scheduled just two weeks out. (The employee's recuperative period was not readily identifiable either.)
With this information in hand, the CA proceeded to discuss options that might be appealing to all parties. The final resolution allowed the employee to go on Medical Leave to have the surgery performed and spend the necessary time recuperating. Once the employee was medically able to return to work, the employee would be involuntarily laid off because of surplus activity within that jobcode. (This allowed the employee to receive one week for each year of service, three months of medical coverage and eligibility for unemployment until retirement.) [BR]
Why not a strike fund?
When the IAM goes on strike, workers can count on receiving payments from a union strike fund. Even members of the Pacific Northwest Newspaper Guild received some relief thanks to the strike fund established by their parent union, the Communications Workers of America.
No such luxury exists for SPEEA-represented workers. There is no provision in the union's constitution, nor is there a dues supplement to help establish a strike fund under the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers.
During the 40-day strike, SPEEA received contributions and allocated some union money toward a "striker relief fund." Money was allocated to strikers based solely on a case-by-case basis. The fund eventually distributed about $500,000.
To help members weather the strike, SPEEA moved some funds out of union reserves and the negotiations accounts. The striker relief fund helped many SPEEA members weather the strike. However, even the $500,000 distributed was small compared to the amount of money other unions have distributed to workers during strikes.
At $100 a week, the amount issued by the IAM's strike fund, SPEEA would have gone through $1.9 million if checks had been issued to 19,000 represented employees who walked off the job in 2000. At that rate, a six-week strike would require a strike fund of $11.4 million. To reach that amount within a three-year period would require dues to be nearly doubled, with all of the excess funneled into the strike fund.
Many people believe $100 a week will not go far enough for families that truly need help during the next labor dispute. But, while payments to every member might be out of the question, reestablishing a "striker relief" fund that could be used to help the truly needy members could be possible with a dues supplement. Such a fund could benefit our own members during future strikes and provide money for helping other union members during hard times. More than $300,000 was donated to the SPEEA striker relief fund by other labor unions during our own strike.
Start your personal strike fund now
No one can predict the future of SPEEA negotiations. But, one thing we know for sure is that Boeing will do what it can to prepare for a future strike by SPEEA members.
We should do the same.
Strikes are a last resort. Nobody likes to walk off the job. But, as we now know, strikes are a tool that sometimes must be used. Every member should do what he or she can to prepare for this worse-case situation.
Members in the Puget Sound and Wichita Professional bargaining units are already mid-way through their current contracts with The Boeing Company. If you haven't started putting away a little each month to weather a potential strike, it's time to start. It never hurts to be prepared.
Just knowing members are starting to save sends a signal of solidarity that might just make the next negotiations a little easier on everyone.
How does SPEEA change dues?
The actual amount of SPEEA dues is recalculated each January 5 as outlined in the union's constitution. The annual adjustment ties members' dues to salary adjustments.
Currently, dues are based on a formula of .85% of the average hourly rate paid to members in all of the SPEEA bargaining units. The only way this formula can be changed is by a constitutional referendum. Sending such a referendum to the membership requires approval by 60% of the SPEEA Council. Passage of the referendum by members also requires approval by 60% of the membership.
The process was used in 1991 when the union succeeded in increasing the dues formula from .6% to .85% of the average hourly rate. The referendum was approved by 62% of the membership.
The dues formula is blanket for all members. It does not take into account the difference in salaries between a first year tech and a 30-year engineer. All bargaining unit members pay the same amount in dues.
Rumor, rumor, who's got the rumor?
By Mark Moshay
One of the ironies of the information age is that the proliferation of misinformation has grown proportionately. These days a juicy rumor is just one mouse-lick away from "instant stardom."
Council reps and staff alike are often inundated with email and phone calls dealing with the latest rumor. It can be extremely frustrating. Why? Because we believe that every member deserves to have an answer to the questions they ask.
The volume of queries we get on a daily basis at times can be overwhelming. But once a rumor has hit the streets, it can become quite a challenge. Most of us find ourselves using a form of triage, in which we simply address the most urgent issues first.
Our members have been patient with us as we sort through the rumors that crop up regularly.
Here are a few tips that may help minimize workplace-rumor frustrations:
Wait - If at all possible try to hold off for a day or two. Many times a rumor spreads like wildfire just before an announcement or event. Rather than spend a lot of energy worrying about what may happen, wait to see what transpires.
Contact your Area Rep or Council Rep - Our reps are the eyes and ears of SPEEA. Coordinating with them helps to minimize the overload.
Read the SPEEA Weekly Newsletter - We make an effort to hit all of the hot topics in each issue. Your Area Rep should have current issues available to read, or check them out here on the web.
Check the SPEEA Website, www.speea.org- There is a tab titled
HOT ISSUES, which is updated
RULES FOR CLASSIFIED ADS
Classified Advertising is provided free-of-charge to SPEEA members. The editor has full and final authority to make decisions concerning publication of each ad. SPEEA is not responsible for the authenticity or validity of ads or the quality of merchandise advertised in the SPOTLITE.
Ads are limited to 25 words or less, must be received by the 10th of the previous month and receive priority on a "first-come, first-serve" basis. To submit an ad, include your name, address, home and work phone numbers, and your clock number. Ads are published once and must be resubmitted for each subsequent monthly publication. No more than two ads per member can be accepted each month. Submit your completed ad by:
is also available on Boeing's internal web at http://classifieds.web.boeing.com
Redmond Rambler, near Rose Hill, completely remodeled, like new. 1900 sq. ft., 1/3 acre, 4 bedroom, $270K. (425) 444-7632.
Cabin at Copalis Beach, WA (5 miles north of ocean shores). Sleeps 5. Two blocks from beach. $75.00 per night. For information call (253)529-5444.
Timeshare Condo for sale at lake Chelan (Wapato Pt). 2 BD/2 BA. Lot's of activities, olympic pool, volleyball, miniture golf. Nearby casino, waterslides, golf course, skiing. Lot's of fun... $5995. Telephone (425) 337-7135 or (425) 308-0311
Maalaeu, Maui: 1 BD oceanfront condo, sleeps 4, completely furnished, jacuzzi, pool, fantastic ocean/ mtn. view. Call (206) 328-8659. SPEEA discount.
North Oregon Coast oceanview 2 BD/2 BA, fireplace, pool/spa, near beach and golf. Rates: $105-125/night. $750/week summer. CONDOBEACH@aol.com or 1-888-349-5304.
Maui Condo: comforts of home, overlooking beach. 1BD, 1BA, SLP4, discounts offered, children 12 & under free. Owner (253)839-6705 or email email@example.com
'94 Ford Explorer XLT, white, AT, AC, etc. Low mileage, one owner, excellent condition. $11,550. (425) 644-2404.
'79 Toyota Corolla blown head gasket. $50. Steel Toyota truck 4X rims. New paint, silver. $50. Pellet stove, good shape, no auger motor. $400 OBO. (253) 589-4843.
'85 Buick LaSabre, 4-door, automatic trans., 90K miles. $2000 OBO. (206) 243-0993.
'69 Ford F250 camper special. 15K on 390 from Ford. AT, AC, 2WD, many extras! Always stored inside. ***MUST SEE***. (253) 875-2978.
Nutmeg Maple Hutch - 50" wide, 5 drawers, 2 doors, open top with 2 shelves with normal gingerbread. (253) 752-4030.
Trash compactor. Whirlpool model #TU8100 built-in with "dense pack" feature, reversible decorator front, extra bags & instructions. $100 ($500 new). (360) 221-7972.
Alta saxaphone Bundy II. Used but reconditioned with new pads. Comes with case. Good shape. Needs to be polished (not sure of polish to use). $350 cash/money order. Tony (425) 315-9849.
Full version MS Win2000 Professional. Still in box. My computer won't accept program. Will sell for $150 ($319 retail). (425) 746-7176.
Boeing's Trading Card Club will hold a Sports Card Show May 12th, 10AM-4PM at the Kent Activity Center. Contact Andrew Wallin at (206) 763-1209 or (206) 544-8739.
Mule Deer Foundation - Lake Washington Chapter meets the first Thursday of each month. Come help us plan our fund raising banquet in december. (425) 644-7264.
Nordic Track Pro ski machine. like new. $100. JBL Signature 15" speaker & enclosure, $25. Large chest of drawers & mirror, $85. (206) 932-8584.
Baby items - 0-12 month clothes for twin boys, toys, misc. items. Great condition. (425) 277-6557.
"Freeland Flame" pellet stove. Needs auger motor repaired. Has low torque motor but auger stops - "Best offer" TBD. (253) 589-4843.
Floor-to-ceiling pole to provide arm grip for an invalid to exit a bed or enter a wheelchair. $120. (425) 702-8583.
Sheepskin covers - real-for rear bench seat of large car. Pearl white-only 6 months used. Never smoked on- excellent condition. $350.Tony (425) 315-9849 after 4pm.
Wanted: Bisque kiln. (206) 266-4168.
"GERMAN WAR SOUVENIRS" from WWI & WWII. Cash or trade for authentic items. What do you have or know of? Call Ron (425) 432-3282
15" or 16" custom rims for 1988 Ford (4) lug. Stock rims are 14" rims. Price TBD. (253) 589-4843.
Professional wedding photographer, will develop and print film, and deliver BOTH proofs and negatives for the set price of $1,000. Sarah Church (253) 946-6950.
Recycled laser printer cartridges. Le$$ expensive than buying new, 100% guaranteed, pick-up and delivery included. Call 1-888-608-1674 or (425) 353-3597.
Rising utility bills? Reduce your dependency on utility companies by using alternative and renewable energy. Call Tom (360) 579-2730 or www.renewable-engineering.com
Web page design. Does your organization or small business need a web presence? Call Tom at (360) 579-2730 or visit our web site at www.netwebbers.com
Small backhoe for small spaces, trenching holes, spreading, burying, etc. $50/hr Whidbey Island, $65/hr & travel time mainland. (360) 730-1829.
Boeing employees, need your house cleaned? Save $20 on your first two cleanings. South of Bellevue only. Call (425) 277-0702. Call today.
Attorney-at-Law: Harry M. Reichenberg, 202 So. 348th St., federal Way, WA, (253) 874-5772. Late afternoon/evening, initial consultation at no charge to SPEEA members.
Would you like to learn to sing? Let an experienced and patient teacher help you. (425) 488-1297.
rate: $2 per year, $2 of the annual membership dues is paid as a year's subscription
to the SPEEA SPOTLITE.
r, Robbi Alberts
Art Direction, Wayne Schwisow
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