September 14, 2001 Newsletter #1849
On August 8th, SPEEA staff and members who are NC Programmers met with management representatives to discuss several issues which have occurred related to NC Programming jobs at Boeing. Some of these issues are "long-term", others are more recent.
In 1993 (after years of discussion), SPEEA and the IAM met with Company representatives and reached agreement on what is salaried work, and what is hourly work, as it relates to Numerical Control Programming and operation of NC machines. As issues related to this agreement have arisen, they were brought to management's attention and rectified.
NC Programming jobs have been severely affected by the cyclic work at the Company. Because of severe cutbacks in downturns, when work builds up, there often aren't enough NC Programmers to do the work. Recently, the Company has been recalling NC Programmers, but not into NC jobs - into Planning positions, stating they don't have sufficient NC work to keep them in that category. Yet, at the same time, there is increased presence of contractors or vendors doing NC work on Boeing property. Management calls this a "pilot project". Management explained that the pilot project entails: "firm fixed pricing" with vendor programming; evaluating the results to determine future viability; and (if successful) utilizing vendor programming for "surge" capacity ("as required, from 1 to 15 equivalent programmers worth of work").
Employees are questioning, what criteria is being used to make decisions to contract this work out vs. rehiring the programmers (from layoff) to keep the work in-house. Is it really more cost effective? These vendors are being sent to "school" (though management explains their own employers are paying for that schooling). Materiel (S&MP) is involved in "buying" this outsourcing (is this an added, unnecessary cost?) The Boeing organization still has to do the preparation and finish work. All the work done outside has to be "checked" by in-house NC Programmers (again, is this an added, unnecessary cost?) And much of the work is found to be in need of in-house re-work (shouldn't quality be a major consideration in determining who does the work?)
A major flaw seems to be, employees are not being involved in helping to make decisions about how the work can best be done. Also, many programmers are past early retirement age and could decide to leave at any time. Is the Company prepared for this?
NC Programmers at the meeting suggested the Skill Teams look at borrowing programmers from another organization to assist them during "spikes" in their work. It was pointed out, the long-term health of employees (i.e., job security) will lead to the long-term health of the Company.
As for next steps, we have filed a grievance relative to violation of Article 9 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. We are also continuing to press for a meaningful and accurate dialogue around the actual costs associated with this outsourcing effort. We remaining committed to holding the Company accountable relative to their Contractual obligations and to resolving issues through thorough examination of facts and data and not simply management opinions.
Volunteer sought to serve as "Labor Rep" on college advisory board
Over the years, SPEEA has been asked by local community colleges to appoint a "Labor Representative" to serve on their various Advisory Boards.
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 compatibility. Having SPEEA-represented labor reps on their committees gives these schools the added expertise of your technical background. These boards generally meet about every quarter, in the evening at their campus.
North Seattle Community College
We have been asked by North Seattle Community College to select a labor rep for their Computer Information Services (CIS) Technical Advisory Committee.
If you are interested in applying
to fill this spot, please contact Robbi Alberts at SPEEA on (206) 433-0995,
ext. 126 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
SPEEA's Executive Board will make the final appointment.
Notes from the Executive Director
Is Partnership Dead?
On August 31st, Hank Queen sent out an email on compensation saying that his team did a study for engineers and found that, overall, Boeing engineers were "at market". They shared the data with SPEEA and we disagreed with the conclusions. Hank's email also mentioned that Boeing and SPEEA share a commitment "to providing a principle-based compensation methodology and process that provides competitive compensation and recognizes performance and individual value". His study did reveal that one-to-five year salaries were low and he promised to share the data with employees.
I've gotten a number of inputs on Hank's email. Some think Hank's email spelled the end for any compensation adjustments and crushed our Partnership. One area rep said, "The feeling here is that Queen's e-mail destroys any hope for the engagement process, because in our group, concern about pay was voted as the #1 problem."
I believe that Hank's email demonstrates the power of our Partnership and the need to fully engage. In the old days, this email (if sent out at all) would have said, "We studied it, there is no problem, get back to work." Instead this email says, "We studied it, we don't think there is an overall problem but SPEEA disagrees and we will work with them to see if we can reach a joint conclusion." WOW - opening the door to employee input on one of the most important aspects of our careers - compensation... powerful stuff.
A couple of points:
First and foremost is that SPEEA is committed to appropriate compensation for ALL represented employees. Hank's study only looked at engineers. There is a reason for this: it is a lot easier to get comparative data for engineers than other represented SPEEA employees. Simply put, the first look was where the light is best. However, SPEEA is committed to full and comprehensive study for ALL represented employees.
We disagree with their analysis for a number of reasons, but one in particular:
The major reason is that salary comparisons were by "level". This means that the salaries of people within Boeing levels have been compared to the salaries of people in similar levels at other companies. We believe that many of Boeing's employees are classified low. Take level 5, for example. If Boeing has a bunch of true level 6 employees classified as level 5 it will make the level 5 salary look higher than it really is. We believe that a better comparison is the scatter chart of experience vs salary. We believe that presenting the data in this form will show that Boeing engineers are indeed lagging the market. We will work with Boeing to explore this.
So, at this point, we disagree with the Company's assessment of the engineers' position within the market, but we are committed to working with them to reach a common understanding of where we really are. This effort will include developing shared principles and goals for compensation. We are also committed to examinations for ALL represented employees.
Without our joint commitment to a Partnership, a continued dialogue on this topic would be impossible. With a Partnership, we have a basis to address what many consider to be today's top issue. Now is the time to get down to real work on real issues.
Hank's email did not mark the end of the Partnership; it signaled the beginning.
Over the coming months SPEEA will be publishing our view of compensation philosophies and principles as well as our analysis of many of the data available. [Ref. first article of this series below.]
Employees win lawsuit over loss of retiree benefits
TULSA, OKLA - A group of 1,000 retired McDonnell Douglas employees won a victory over The Boeing Company recently relating to their retiree benefits.
The workers won a class-action lawsuit filed in 1994 that alleged the Company closed their plant in an effort to avoid paying pension, health and retiree medical benefits.
As reported in The Wall Street Journal, Judge Sven Erik Holmes found that the Company "engaged in a course of obstruction, inconsistent representations and outright falsehoods" to keep the truth from coming out about the 1993 closure of a McDonnell Douglas plant in Tulsa.
During the trial, the Company's attorneys argued that the decision to close the Tulsa plant was based on business reasons. Judge Holmes threw out this argument after the Company failed to produce documents supporting the business case for the decision. The judge found instead that the Company had laid off employees to avoid paying full retirement benefits.
"This action shows the value of union representation and the value of employees working together," said Charles Bofferding, executive director of SPEEA. "These employees were vulnerable because they did not have a contract that guaranteed their benefits."
In 1997, The Boeing Company acquired McDonnell Douglas Corp. The Tulsa plant built tail sections for the F-15 fighter.
Area Rep Training - Mark your Calendar!
SPEEA will be providing training for Area Reps in the Puget Sound area on the following dates. Please pick one of these dates, mark your calendar, and plan to attend!
TOPICS TO BE COVERED:
Any SPEEA member is welcome to attend this training, whether you currently serve as a Union Representative or whether you are thinking about taking on that role in the future. Each AREA REP who attends the training will receive a new SPEEA polo shirt. Dinner will be served 1/2 hour prior to the start time of the training.
Please RSVP by calling the appropriate phone number listed above.
NOTE: Watch for an article on training planned for Wichita Area Reps in next week's newsletter.
MIDWEST REGION NEWS
WICHITA - By now, WTPU-represented employees should have received notification of the results of our contract-negotiated retention exercise. While the formal grievance procedure does not apply to a retention rating, our contract does give us the right to appeal under certain circumstances.
If your retention rating has dropped one level or more and you do not understand why, you must first meet with your supervisor to discuss why you were rated lower than you were previously. The following could be valid reasons for a reduction in your retention index:
Following discussions with management, if you feel that the supervisor was unable to satisfactorily explain the reduction in your retention, you can submit a written report to the SPEEA Contract Administrators, describing why you believe the rating is unjust and listing all the reasons that should have been taken into consideration prior to evaluating your retention.
The Contract Administrators will then analyze the statistical data for your retention group and your supporting documentation (Performance Managements, Letters of Commendation, etc.) and will either (a) move the appeal forward with Company Representatives, or (b) respond to you with notification of the reason for rejecting the appeal.
Retention totems play an important part in management planning, and it is important that the ratings be accurate. If you need assistance with the appeal process, contact your SPEEA Council Rep. Appeals must be submitted to the Contract Administrator within thirty days of receiving your retention rating.
on Negotiations 2002
On Friday, August 31st, Hank Queen, Vice President of Engineering for Boeing Commercial Airplanes, sent an e-mail to employees reporting on a study of compensation done by a team from Engineering and the Compensation organization. Their general conclusion was that pay for Boeing employees was "on average competitive with the market."
Ahead of the announcement, Hank shared the results with SPEEA leadership. At that meeting, we disagreed with their conclusion and expressed our belief that salaries paid SPEEA-represented employees are too low. Despite our disagreement on their conclusion, we committed to use the Joint Compensation Discussion Group created by the contract to further study the issues of compensation.
The nature of SPEEA-represented employees is to jump into the details and really chew on the data. Before doing that, however, it is useful to lay some groundwork on which the subsequent discussions can be better understood.
Two Methods for determining Compensation
There are two fundamental methods of determining employee compensation. One is job-based while the other is individual-based.
At the extreme, a job-based system says "I will pay X dollars for this job to be performed. I don't care who you are, what you know, or what else you can do." As a contrast, the individual-based system says "Based on your knowledge, skills and abilities, I believe you are worth X dollars. Getting that much value to the Company from your efforts is the responsibility of both you, the employee, and management."
In reality, most compensation systems are compromises and include characteristics of each method. The Boeing compensation systems are no different, having characteristics of each. A good case can be made that the recent switch to the Salaried Job Classification (SJC) system pushed the Boeing compensation systems a bit more towards job-based, if for no other reason than it now includes job level descriptions for engineers who previously did not have them.
Job-Based Market Analysis
Starting with your compensation system's tendency (i.e., job-based or individual-based), you can perform your external job market analysis. Hank's team attacked the comparison from a job-based approach.
Compensation consulting companies make available (for a fee) salary data by job. The salary data is usually the median (50% level) and often some salary range values (i.e., the 25% and 75% level, or the 10% and 90% levels). The job descriptions for these "benchmark" jobs are similar to the responsibility guides associated with the levels in an SJC job family. The data available on the Internet at sites like www.salary.com are very similar to that provided by the compensation consultants.
Some of the challenges in a market analysis like this include:
As the data from the Boeing market analysis is presented at the Joint Compensation Discussion Group, these issues and others will be on the table.
Individual-Based Market Analysis
If your view on a compensation system is more focused on the individual's capabilities, your approach on market analysis is very different. A starting point is that people's capabilities tend to increase over time as they continue to learn and develop, either through a formal process or, more likely, through work experiences. This approach accepts that people have different capabilities and those capabilities increase at different rates. As capabilities increase, compensation increases as well.
A valuable tool both SPEEA and Boeing have used in the past is a "maturity" curve which displays salary versus experience. To reflect individuals' different capabilities with the same experience, the salary percentiles (10%, 25%, 50%, 75% and 90%) are usually shown.
Market analysis using maturity curves has its own challenges. These include:
Market Data - The Big Lie
For people, such as those represented by SPEEA, who are used to working with data having great precision, market salary data is inevitably unsatisfying. Data is often difficult to obtain and is seldom definitive for the reasons mentioned above.
Ultimately, judgment must be applied to the data to determine a compensation policy. Other factors that influence that judgment include employee attrition, new hire salary rates, internal company salary equity, the desired relationship to the market (e.g., to trail, equal or lead), and business realities (both current and future).
Seeking Common Ground
We understand the complexities surrounding market data and a compensation policy. We are committed to working with the Company so that we each understand the others' viewpoints. We intend to do so in a principled and open fashion.
If there is a strike in 2002, will you be prepared?
By Alan Rice, NW Region VP & Negotiation Preparation Committee member
Two years ago, right about now, I was eagerly anticipating my first involvement as a member of the 1999 SPEEA Negotiation team. We each had our own expectations for the outcome of these negotiations and perhaps a different set of priorities as well. What wasn't on my mind, and probably not yours either, was how prepared (or unprepared) I was personally for what would eventually occur.
Regardless of our differing priorities, we found enough common ground to stand together and went on strike. How many of us knew the cost, or the hardship we would face as a result? A few I suppose; but most were like me, out there for the first time. From the results of the earlier surveys, I imagine that the majority of us neither wanted to strike nor were well prepared to do so.
From our individual and collective experiences, we have gained a lot of insight as to how to better prepare for such an event again - should it ever occur. I will not suppose that I have all the answers by listing everything you can do to be ready should 2002 end up on a similar note. I will, however, share some of the insight I gained to help initiate an assessment of your own unique circumstances.
As a member of the negotiation team as well as the Executive Board, I was well aware of the impact that the strike was having on families and individuals. From the first week, we set up food banks and relief programs to help those who needed assistance in order to sustain their absence from the workplace. The needs were as varied as the solutions some came up with to supplement their income and savings.
Like me, many took a job and tightened their belts at home to economize during the hardship. What I learned about this solution is that it can work for a while (hopefully as long as the strike) because our personal debt level was not so high that it required a full paycheck each week to survive. I also found that creditors were much more willing to accommodate some irregularities when they were contacted well in advance of such an occurrence. I also heard that many creditors had no flexibility in such matters. I would want to know that in advance and change to one that was willing to work with me.
Certainly there are lessons learned and success stories out there that may help inform others on how best to survive a strike - or any other such crisis. Whether financial or emotional, there are solutions to overcome every obstacle. From our families to our communities, the best support comes from within. The combined resources of our labor community were tremendous assets to us as was the personal aid given by friends and coworkers. The best way for us each to weather the affects of a loss of income is to prepare for it in advance. Of course this is no small task, but I know we are up to it... all we need is the data - and the time to use it. NOW is not too soon!
Having listened to members, I know there are still some who believe that the answer is a Strike Fund. We are a "facts-and-data" sort of group, but let me put it simply: no strike fund existing today pays for much more than the food bill. Do we really want to increase our dues by $5 a month just so IF there is a strike we can have food money? Wouldn't it be better if we each created our own financial resources to withstand whatever hardship may befall us...not just a strike?
Your Negotiation Preparation Committee is listening... Tell us what you think about this.
Member's family could use your help
Portland Council Rep Chris Carpenter reports his niece, Lindsey Christy, was born with a rare, congenital brain tumor, known as a Hypothalamic Hamartoma. She is 13 years old and has lived with a range of problems due to this tumor such as, two types of epilepsy, mood swings, precocious puberty and learning disabilities. She has tried to hide her condition in the hopes of being accepted as a normal person. Her many medications are relatively helpless in treating her symptoms.
Chris' family has recently learned of a new surgical procedure in Melbourne, Australia, where they are able to completely remove this type of tumor. They had previously been told that Lindsey was not a candidate for surgery as her tumor is located in the center of her brain. However, Dr. Jeffrey Rosenfeld of the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne, Australia has developed a new procedure using a different route to access the tumor. Previous such surgeries have been highly successful and the results have been remarkable. This is the answer to many parents' prayers, and is the cure Lindsey has longed for.
The difficulty arises in traveling to a foreign country for this procedure, as it is expensive. Chris reports they are approximately $25,000 short of their goal. The surgical team tells him that they need to stay in Australia for two months and to have enough people present to help with post-surgical care. It will require two or three people to rotate shifts to minimize stress. He says they are hoping to take Lindsey's grandparents to help with the huge task of caring for her after surgery.
This appears to be her best chance to begin living a normal life without the reliance of medications and their concomitant side effects. Any contributions would help achieve this for her and Chris would be forever grateful.
Funds are being collected towards the cost of the stay for five people. Donations can be given at any US Bank and ask that your donations be deposited into the "Lindsey Christy Donation Fund".
Ed Wells presents
Contributors to Technical Excellence award
The Ed Wells Initiative was honored recently to present its Contributors to Technical Excellence award to Tracey Riverman, a technical unit employee in Commercial Airplane Services (Customer Services). Presentation of the award was made at a CAS group meeting August 23rd by Paul Zieske, SPEEA co-director of the Initiative.
In nominating her, co-worker and fellow tech Ronald Laughlin described Tracey's outstanding contribution to the Airline Support Engineering web site. Ronald explained how she took the initiative to learn how to create a web site, obtain approval to do so, and then personally create the site. More importantly, Tracey filled a knowledge gap in her organization and discovered a useful way to make her work group collectively smarter. Her work has created a valuable resource that continues to receive very positive feedback from users.
The Contributors to Technical Excellence award carries forward the values of Ed Wells himself, who recognized the importance of valuing and sharing individual achievement. Recipients are people who learn, practice, and promote state-of-the-art techniques in their daily work.
So far this year, SPEEA-represented employees have used the award to recognize and reward technical excellence demonstrated by their peers. The five recipients they have recognized are:
To make a nomination, visit the web site of the Ed Wells Initiative: http://EdWells.web.boeing.com
An open letter to SPEEA members
In reply to Ken Lambert's recent letter "PERKING MERRILY" concerning Starbucks employee benefits (ref. SPEEA Newsletter #1846 dated 8/17/01), there is certainly the other side of the coin for this company. While Starbucks perhaps treats its baristas well, the main laborers of their business - the farmers who grow and pick the coffee beans - live in poverty. Starbucks, like many other coffee companies, deals with brokers who drive the price of coffee down. Recent news articles have shown how coffee growers in Nicaragua cannot even feed their own families, perhaps obtaining $0.60 a pound. There is a national movement to pay fair prices for coffee, known as "Fair Trade". Currently, Starbucks buys a measly 1% of its coffee through Fair Trade Cooperatives at a minimum of $1.26 per pound. Besides checking with your favorite espresso stand, another place to find more information is Global Exchange's Fair Trade Coffee Campaign: http://www.globalexchange.org/economy/coffee/index.html
/s/ Ken Hankin, SPEEA member, Puget Sound Metrology
An employee who had received a recall offer contacted the SPEEA Office to discuss his reservation about the salary being offered to him. He wanted to know what the "rules" were concerning offers.
The Contract Administrator explained that management has the right to offer whatever salary they deem appropriate. However, if the offer is lower than the salary they had at the time of lay off, the employee could reject the offer without jeopardizing their recall rights.
The practice of the Company was to offer returning employees the salary they had at the time of layoff plus any Guaranteed Wage Increases that had taken place since layoff.
Rejection of a job offer when the salary is equal to or greater than what the employee had at the time of layoff would result in being removed from the recall list.
The employee felt that he had improved his value by obtaining a college degree since his layoff. He wondered if he could make a counter-offer to the employer. The Contract Administrator advised the employee that he could make such a counter, along with his explanation of why he felt that it would be warranted.
The CA warned the employee to be careful not to make the counter offer an ultimatum, but rather a request for consideration. An ultimatum could be viewed as a refusal to accept the offer. The employee contacted the Company, made a counter-offer, provided his reasoning, and asked that he be given consideration of his request.
The employee was notified within a few days that his counter offer was accepted and he was given a date to report for work! [MM]
Executive Board Mini-Minutes
Thursday, September 6, 2001
ATTENDEES: Craig Buckham, Alan Rice, Jerry Robinson, Ron Mathes, Tom McCarty, Joe Newberry (by phone); Pat Waters (Council Chair)
GUESTS: Joel Funfar, Dan Hartley, Don Shuper, Bill Scott, Wayne Hollatz, Keith Neal, Brenda Carlson, Kristin Farr
The Executive Board:
Future meeting dates: October 4, 2001; October 25, 2001; November 8, 2001 (1:00 start time); November 29, 2001; and December 20, 2001
The meeting adjourned at 8:40 p.m.
New Discounters approved
At their September 6th meeting, the Executive Board approved adding the following firms to the SPEEA Discount List:
AT&T Wireless (nationwide): Wireless phones, accessories and service. Free activation (reg. $35); 50% discount on phones; 25% discount on accessories; 13% monthly airtime discount. 30-day money-back guarantee. Call 1-800-388-3235 and reference FA#11497.
Burien Family Dentisty, P.L.L.C. (14212 Ambaum Blvd SW, #305): 206/988-3968. After deductibles are met, will accept coverage of Boeing Scheduled Dental Plan (Aetna) as payment in full for covered services provided at this clinic.
Watch for an updated Discount List in the October 2001 SPEEA SPOTLITE.
SPEEA meets with Congressman Rick Larsen
On Friday, August 17th, SPEEA representatives, along with other Snohomish County Labor Council (SCLC) members, met with U.S. Congressman Rick Larsen (D-WA, 2nd District) at the Snohomish County Labor Temple. SPEEA's legislative staff focal Kristin Farr was accompanied by SPEEA's SCLC Delegates Chris Glenn and Timothy Bond.
Congressman Larsen started the meeting by addressing the state of the federal budget, ranging from issues like the President's $1.3+ trillion "tax rebate" to the possibility of dipping into Social Security and Medicare to meet the government's spending obligations. Trade Promotion Authority (also known as "Fast Track") for trade agreements was the predominant topic for discussion (Fast Track legislation that would allow trade agreements to move through Congress with little opportunity for debate and no opportunity for modification). The labor leaders were curious about Congressman Larsen's position on granting the President Trade Promotion Authority. Rick said he had not made a decision on whether to support the current bills (in both the House and the Senate) and was interested in hearing from us. Several labor leaders offered various reasons why he should oppose Trade Promotion Authority, such as: 1) granting this kind of authority to one branch of the government is against the democratic system of "checks and balances"; 2) no current bills contain enforceable worker or environmental rights provisions; and 3) Fast Track threatens laws designed to protect consumers and the environment.
Congressman Larsen responded that this was the kind of information he was hoping to hear from the group. He agreed that both Trade Promotion Authority legislation, and trade agreements in general, should contain enforceable worker and environmental rights and he would be wary of voting in favor of a bill that did not contain these important standards. The labor leaders also reminded him that should such rights be added to Trade Promotion Authority, they should be contained in the core text of any agreement (i.e., not in an unenforceable "side letter").
In addition, SPEEA updated Congressman Larsen on our findings relating to the foreign subsidies received by rival Airbus and told him that the SPEEA Council recommended filing a countervailing duty petition. He stated that he supported our efforts and wished us luck, and relayed that he had recently assisted raspberry growers in his district with a similar dilemma and would be happy to assist us as well. [KF]