March 3, 2001 Newsletter #1825
(reprinted from Puget Sound
Navy News, 3/22/00)
Monday marked the end of the longest strike in the history of the engineers' union at Boeing. The members of the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA) voted overwhelmingly in favor of the third contract offer placed before them.
The significance of their accomplishment extends far beyond the Boeing community. The members of SPEEA have shattered the myth that white-collar workers are unable to apply the principles of solidarity as their blue-collar cousins.
One of the risks of going on strike is the perception by the general public. Too often, the media portrays a strike as being all about money. Pay is rarely the sole issue of a contract dispute. Yet, in an effort to simplify the details, journalists often take the easy way out and call it a battle for the green. I'm pleased to note that the media did a fair job of highlighting the real issue for this strike - respect.
I won't go into the details of the original contract offer that was made to the SPEEA members last November. Basically, it was a non-offer, a list of proposals that included reductions and takeaways. It was an insult. In my book, you don't insult someone you respect.
Some commentators have expressed doubt about respect being a real issue, but I understand completely. When you spend years working for an organization, dedicating yourself to doing your very best, part of your reward is (or should be) the respect of your employer.
What the men and women of SPEEA have done goes far beyond securing a decent contract. They have established a benchmark for technical and professional workers at the beginning of the 21st century. The actions of SPEEA will surely send a wave of realization throughout the white-collar community, from Redmond to the Silicon Valley. Who knows, this may be the beginning of a labor organizing boom in the high-tech community.
There are so many positive images that emerged from this strike. I joined the SPEEA members at the Kent site, on President's Day. It was inspiring. Truckers flew by honking horns. IAM members leaving work displayed SPEEA support signs. The atmosphere was filled with a sense of unity and purpose.
The victory at SPEEA has an impact on the federal sector as well. Our pay and benefits are compared to the private sector. Their success in securing better wages and working conditions has a direct impact on federal employees.
Our union, the IFPTE, represents employees in the private sector, the public sector (state, county, and city employees) and the federal sector. Because of that diversity, IFPTE has continued to grow in size and in power into one of the largest professional/technical unions in the country.
As the newest local in IFPTE, the number given to SPEEA couldn't be more appropriate - 2001. I'm extremely proud to be connected with those men and women who stood strong, together, in order to blaze a new trail for workers everywhere.
The slogan that they often chanted was "one day longer". It meant their resolve to stay on strike would last one day longer than management's refusal to offer a reasonable contract offer.
They did better than that, they went 40 days longer.
EDITOR'S NOTE: At the time Mark wrote this article, he was president of PEPS, IFPTE Local 6 (a federal-sector union) at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard. He had been writing a weekly column in this local paper for about 8 years. Shortly after this article was published, Mark was hired onto SPEEA's staff as a contract administrator and now works out of our Everett office.
Notes from the Executive
This is the story of a number of emails all conspiring to tell a very powerful story. A story that was hidden microns below the surface and, with the most gentle scratch, was revealed.
I'm still in Wichita negotiating the first contract for the newly-represented group. It is hard work but everyone seems committed to the task. We are working through the non-economic issues and hopefully getting ready to begin comp and benefit discussions in earnest next week.
While traveling I send and receive a lot of email. This trip has been no different.
A friend (who wishes to remain anonymous, but whom everyone knows) sent me a very simplistic spreadsheet that made a VERY powerful point. It shows the great value of increasing utilization of employees. He wrote it for Seattle, but, since I'm in Wichita, I adjusted it for the unit currently in negotiations (see below, download it and play with it yourself).
The powerful point it makes is this: There is A LOT of money to be made/saved with increased employee utilization. The numbers are a bit squishy. But even with very conservative inputs, the output is staggering.
I was fascinated by this and took it one step further. It made me wonder what a similar analysis of the negotiations in Seattle would yield. Specifically, what was the Company trying to save and what did they end up spending.
Reference the second spreadsheet below - strike evaluator (download and feel free to play). Again some things JUMP off the page at you. The money the Company was trying to save (about $17 million in benefits and maybe $50 million in bonus money) paled in comparison to the HUNDREDS of millions lost to productivity lags and attrition costs. My quick calculation is NOT all-inclusive, but it certainly makes a point. While some are focusing on short-term unit cost of employees [which can save tens of millions of dollars (which are easy to measure)], hundreds of millions of dollars (which might be a bit harder to measure, but are just as real) are draining out of Boeing. WOW. Something to think about.
OK, back to Wichita; my plan is to show these spreadsheets and try to make the point that, if Boeing spends some money on wages and benefits, they will get dollars back on the pennies. I will also point out that, while SPEEA has been accused of "cherry-picking" benefit plans to get the best for our members, the Company makes no apologies for cherry-picking industry best-practices across the new enterprise to increase productivity and therefore return for shareholders.
An email I got today had the following quote:
"Create an environment that inspires people to invent the future of Boeing by working together."
I think the way to do this is to work to have everyone committed to getting the best of everything for everyone. This means the best wages and benefits for employees, the best products for customers, and the best productivity (and therefore return) for shareholder.
The amazing thing is that, by investing just a few pennies on employees, dollars are available for all. Cherries all the way around.
Wichita negotiations update
The first week of negotiations in Wichita for our new WTPU bargaining unit - Wichita Technical & Professional Unit - left SPEEA's negotiation team members both optimistic and wary. As of Friday, February 23rd, the parties have tentatively agreed to four articles, have exchanged language on another ten, and are in active discussions on three others. SPEEA's team is wary because benefits and money are yet to be addressed.
Progress has been made. Boeing's team seems eager to work with us, but on some issues progress is slow and SPEEA's team wonders if they fully appreciate the depth of employee desires. There have been very preliminary discussions on benefits and money, but those topics will not be addressed in earnest until next week, at the earliest and possibly not until the following week.
Now more than ever, active support matters. Thanks to those WTPU folks who have joined SPEEA. If you aren't yet a member, please consider joining now when it matters the most. Display visibility items in your workplace.
If you have questions, you
are asked to email them to Wichita.Negotiations@speea.org.
Your questions will be answered as soon as possible, and the Q&A website
will be updated based on your input.
SPEEA members named as Technical Fellows
A new group of top engineers and scientists has been named to the Boeing Technical Fellowship. On Friday, February 16, 2001, a black-tie ceremony was held in St. Louis, Missouri where new Boeing "Fellows" were congratulated by Boeing's top management for keeping the Company at the forefront of science and technology. SPEEA's Executive Director Charles Bofferding was invited as a guest at this event.
Established in 1989, this fellowship recognizes and rewards outstanding employees in scientific and engineering disciplines who pursue technical rather than managerial career paths. These employees are nominated by their organizations and judged on criteria established by the fellowship.
Congratulations to the following SPEEA members who were recognized in that ceremony as Technical Fellows:
Peter Anast (Renton)
These new Fellows bring the total named over the past 12 years to 48 Senior Technical Fellows, 264 Technical Fellows, and 1,200 Associate Fellows.
For more information, you can check out the Boeing Technical Excellence website for engineers (fellows) and for technical employees (principles):
Wichita Council Rep election results
Since more than one person applied for the Council Rep vacancy in Wichita's District N-6, a mail ballot election was conducted among members in that district. Ballots were mailed out on Monday, February 12th.
On Monday, February 26th, Midwest Tellers Committee members met to count ballots in this election. They have announced the following results:
Ballots authorized 231
Ballots returned 80 (35%)
For B.J. Moore 17
For Shelly Tucker 26
For James Hatfield 34
Congratulations to James Hatfield who will represent the WTPU employees in Wichita buildings 1-198D, 1-258H, 1-265B, 1-269D, 1-271A, 1-355C and 5-5064!
Executive Board ballots in the mail
Ballots for the annual SPEEA Executive Board elections went out in the mail on Tuesday, February 27, 2001. In order to be counted, ballots must be returned (to SPEEA's Post Office Box, SPEEA's Everett Office, or SPEEA Headquarters in Tukwila) no later than 12:00 NOON on WEDNESDAY, MARCH 14, 2001.
If you wish to turn your ballot into our Wichita SPEEA office, please do so by Monday noon, March 12 so they can be Fed-Ex'd to Seattle by the deadline.
Up for election this year are the positions of President, 3 Northwest Regional Vice Presidents, and 1 Midwest Regional Vice President. Members must vote within their region for vice president. President is voted on by all members.
By joining SPEEA, you are eligible to vote on the leaders who will carry us into our next negotiations. We urge you to carefully read the ballot package information that has been mailed to you.
Please take time to vote!
Lisa Washburn to work with Ed Wells on grants
Lisa Washburn, who has been serving as SPEEA's Council Representative for the Frederickson site, began her new job at the Ed Wells Initiative office starting February 23rd. She will serve as Program Administrator for their grant program.
The Ed Wells Initiative grant program promotes lifelong learning and technical excellence through education. The grant program makes it possible for SPEEA-represented employees to come into contact with new ideas that may benefit their work, their career and Boeing. Conferences and classes also give employees the opportunity to talk with others in their technical field.
The program is for SPEEA-represented techs and profs who normally aren't able to attend off-site symposia, professional society meetings, seminars and vendor courses because of limited travel and training budgets. It is not intended to replace organization funding for attendance at off-site learning activities. It is intended to supplement this funding and allow greater employee participation.
Employees initiate the process and choose the learning event most valuable to themselves and their work group.
Lisa is excited about taking on this new and challenging task, and being able to continue to work with professional and technical employees at Boeing.
Due to his imminent retirement, Al Terry is resigning his position as Council Representative in District A-50 (Auburn, Profs & Techs, 17-091, 17-05, 17-220 & 17-239 Buildings). [Thank you, Al, for your on-going SPEEA support!]
If you reside in this area, if you meet the one-year continuous membership requirement, and would like to apply to fill this vacancy for the two months remaining on the term - please contact Terry Hall for instructions (206/433-0995, ext. 130 or email email@example.com). Your completed petition must reach SPEEA Headquarters no later than 5:00 p.m. Wednesday, the day before the next Council meeting. The next Council meeting is Thursday, March 8th.
Thanks from member
Good news. Just to inform you that I received a call yesterday from Tony (Boeing Health Benefits) to congratulate me on getting my son re-instated under the Boeing health insurance as of January 1, 2001 (no break in coverage). Of course this decision was made as a result of the Boeing Review Board.
I would like to thank you (Stan) and SPEEA for all your efforts in supporting me in resolving this insurance coverage problem for my son Jesse. Viva SPEEA.
/s/ Wally Mseitif
Volunteers sought to serve as "Labor Rep" on local college advisory boards
Over the years, SPEEA has been asked by local community colleges to appoint a "Labor Representative" to serve on their various Advisory Boards. Due to resignations, we currently have openings on the following Boards:
Lake Washington Technical College
Computer Services Network Repair
Program Advisory Board
Engineering Graphics Advisory
Highline Community College
Computer Information Systems Advisory Committee (meets every 3rd Wed, nine times a year, at 4pm at the college... next meeting is March 21st)
The Labor Representative serves on a committee along with college administrators, instructors and industry representatives. They discuss the curriculum, and the needs of the hiring/labor community to ensure compatability. Having SPEEA-represented labor reps on their committees gives these schools the added expertise of your technical background.
If you are interested in helping out your local community college in this capacity, please contact Robbi Alberts at SPEEA on (206) 433-0995, ext. 126 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Free retirement planning seminars
Kevin Cahoon, Associate Vice President, Retirement Planning Specialist, and Andrew Hergert, Financial Advisor with Morgan Stanley Dean Witter will be presenting these free seminars for people who are close to retirement, considering a lump-sum distribution or rollover from their VIP/FSP and asking themselves: Do I have enough money to retire? What taxes and IRS penalties can be imposed on my lump-sum distribution? What are appropriate long-term strategies for my lump-sum or rollover that will best achieve my goals? If you are close to retirement and don't have answers to these questions, take an hour of your day to attend
SPEEA members and spouses are invited although space is limited. Box lunches will be provided. To reserve your space and request a box lunch, call Andrew Hergert at (206) 224-4203 or 1-800-733-4873.
Consumer Price Index - January 2001
The U.S. City Average all-items Consumer Price Index for urban wage earners & clerical workers (CPI-W) on a 1982-84=100 base for January 2001 is 171.7. (On a 1967=100 base, the January index is 511.6.) This is a 0.6% increase from the previous month, and a 3.7% increase from a year ago.
Two SPEEA-represented engineers honored
Two SPEEA-represented engineers from Kent - Mostafa Rassaian and James McSpadden - were honored by the Puget Sound Engineering Council at its annual National Engineers Week banquet in Seattle on Saturday, February 24th.
The council, which represents 15,000 Seattle-area engineers from more than 30 engineering and technical associations, selected Rassaian as its 2001 Industry Engineer of the Year, and picked McSpadden as its 2001 Young Engineer of the Year.
Rassaian holds a doctoral degree in mechanical engineering and is a Boeing Technical Fellow in Space and Communications. He's worked at Boeing since 1987. McSpadden, 34, has a doctoral degree in electrical engineering. He hired on with Boeing in 1997 and is currently in Phantom Works.
Partners in life
Two representatives of SPEEA recently attended the Partners in Life luncheon at the Washington State Convention & Trade Center sponsored by the Puget Sound Blood Center (PSBC). This annual recognition event celebrates the "extraordinary generosity of the people in our community who help to make possible the lifesaving mission of the Blood Center". Over 1050 celebrants were honored at this year's luncheon.
Everett Council Representative Chris Glenn originally donated blood in 1968 and has been a regular donor ever since. Chris was instrumental in getting a blood center mobile in the SPEEA Everett parking lot for an entire day during last year's strike. Chris is also diligent in getting communications to co-workers regarding upcoming blood donation activities.
SPEEA Contract Administrator Bob Rommel started donating blood in 1969 and became a participant on the PSBC's "Tree of Life" at the age of 43. Along with nearly 40 apheresis donations to his credit, he has now exceeded 130 pints of blood (16+ gallons).
SPEEA is proud of these two individuals' contributions to the Puget Sound Blood Center. We would like to thank them and the rest of our membership who take the time to share this "gift of life".
SPEEA DOES Make A Difference
ECF looking for boosters -
a leadership opportunity!
You can help your community, as well as develop your leadership skills, by becoming a Booster for the Employees Community Fund (ECF) campaign at your site. During the campaign - April 30 through May 11 - boosters will recognize and thank employees for supporting their communities through ECF, and answer questions.
Desired booster characteristics include: energetic and enthusiastic, care about others, like to meet new people, seek to acquire leadership skills, and desire to make a difference in your community. No previous experience is required; training will be provided. To be a good booster, you should have strong communication and organizational skills ... have the ability to work without direct supervision ... be compassionate and a good listener ... be able to communicate across all paycodes ... be a good role model among your peers ... and be committed to the goals and objectives of ECF.
Interested SPEEA members/leaders can contact their appropriate site focal listed below, or call Boeing Community Relations at 1-888-412-CARE.
*East Corridor (Bellevue, BECO, Blackriver, Corporate Square, East Valley Office Center, Fort Dent II, Gateway, Kent Benaroya, Recreation Center, Renton Place, Stonehenge, Washington Tech Center)
**West Corridor (Plant II, Spares, South Park, Customer Services, Thompson Site, Sea Tac Tower)
Regular SPEEA council meeting
March 8, 2001
A G E N D A
3:00 - 5:00 p.m. PRE-MEETING: Hank Queen (BCAG VP Engineering, Product Integrity, Define Process): "BCAG Vision & Strategy"
5:00 - 5:30 p.m. Dinner buffet
5:30 p.m. Regular Meeting
Thank you from food bank
Dear Members of SPEEA,
On behalf of the many different Union members in Snohomish County, we THANK YOU. Your donation of badly-needed food items and $1,179.45 came at just the right moment.
We have a large Freezer that went out on us and we did not have any money to get it repaired. With your greatly-needed donation, we will now have the means to not only fix our freezer but to give $20 gift certificates. When we give food out, we like to give a gift certificate with it. That way, the person can buy milk/bread or whatever.
Some of the Union members are too proud to ask for any help. It is our job to advise our members that we stick together and when we help one, we help all.
Again, please THANK all your members for what they did. If only they knew how much their kindness will affect people in need, they would feel proud.
/s/ Bob Monize