October 12, 2001 Newsletter #1853
Wanting to reduce the hardship of employees who face layoff on December 14th, SPEEA has created a special fund to collect donations and then distribute the money as gifts in lieu of lost holiday pay to laid-off employees.
Administered with the cooperation of the King County Labor Agency, the fund was created after dozens of union members suggested donating a day or a few hours of work to help carry their fellow employees through the year-end holidays after the Company said layoffs must begin December 14th.
Donations will be directed into the SPEEA/KCLA Cares Fund. The fund was created as a 502(c)3 charity, allowing donations to be made tax-free. Members, non-members and anyone else can contribute.
"We don't believe the leaders of The Boeing Company should be laying people off," said Charles Bofferding, SPEEA executive director. "And if they insist, the real Boeing Company-that is the people who work at Boeing-will do everything in our power to make sure people are not left without income before the holidays."
The creation of the fund and the goal to provide income assistance to upwards of 1,000 laid off union members is the largest fund-raising effort since SPEEA bought and paid for its union headquarters more than two decades ago.
"This is a huge goal, but it's the right goal," Bofferding said. "It's terrible to lay people off and it's even more terrible to lay them off one week before the holidays."
Donations are being accepted to the fund by check. Other avenues (including bank transfers and accepting credit cards) are being investigated and could already be available.
The suggested donation is $100 or about 4 hours of regular pay. People who donate to the fund will be given a special "I Gave" patriotic badge sticker. Special honors were also being discussed for people who make significant contributions. Donation packages are being mailed to all SPEEA members.
Workers laid off on December 14th are being released five working days before the year-end holiday. Because of the way Boeing administers year-end holidays, workers laid off on Dec. 14 will miss out on six days of year-end holiday pay. Adding January 1st to the missed pay brings the total of missed holiday compensation to seven days.
The fund was created and launched after a series of joint mitigation meetings. During the meetings, SPEEA was unable to convince the Company to delay layoffs beyond the first of the year. The union estimates the Company could retain all 10,000 union and non-union workers beyond the first of the year for about $20 million. After several meetings, Boeing rejected nearly all of the union's suggestions, including offering early retirements, job sharing, voluntary layoff with severance and calling back outsourced work. Boeing did agree to lay off contract workers before regular employees.
"Keeping employees through the holidays is the right thing to do," Bofferding said. "If the Company won't take care of the people, then the Union will. This is what unions do, we look out for and take care of people."
Mitigation efforts result in little help for first wave of layoffs
Despite early hopes Boeing would respond positively to efforts to minimize the number and individual impacts of upcoming layoffs, the first round of mitigation talks are bearing little fruit.
The one area where our input is paying off is in assurances from the Company that efforts are being made to release contract workers before regular employees. Preliminary estimates are that to reduce the SPEEA-represented workforce in Commercial Airplanes by about 10 percent (or 2,000 employees), Boeing will layoff six contractors for every four regular employees.
"We're going to continue to push on this and keep a very close watch to make sure it does happen," said Charles Bofferding, executive director. "They agreed to release contractors and use our people to take their place."
The SPEEA contracts allow the use of contractors since they create a buffer to layoffs for regular workers.
Boeing rejected a host of other mitigation suggestions. Among the ideas that were rejected were allowing early retirements, job sharing, voluntary layoffs with severance and allowing employees to work reduced hours as a way to cut costs.
The SPEEA-Boeing Partnership Committee created the Mitigation Committee as a method for finding ways to reduce the number and impact of layoffs. The group held three meetings. Each time adjustments were made and issues researched by both sides. In the end, the Company remained focused on cutting all expenses.
"We pulled together all these things and the Company said no," Bofferding said. "After the first no, we went back and reworked several items and the Company said no again."
Lively discussions revolved around several key issues during the meetings. Among the more spirited issues were outsourcing, early retirement incentives and having the first employees laid off on December 14th, one week before the year-end holidays.
"It is wrong for the Company to lay people off that close to the holidays," Bofferding said. "We will continue to investigate ways to help people through this time."
Following is a partial list of the issues discussed by the joint mitigation committee and the Company's response:
While the Company failed to approve many of the suggestions, SPEEA representatives said they would continue to press the issues in an attempt to get items reconsidered. The hope is to help decrease layoffs in the months ahead. Finally, SPEEA is continuing to lobby state and federal leaders for assistance for workers laid off due to the current crisis.
the Executive Director
Last week my column began with "Challenges are opportunities. They are opportunities to demonstrate your principles and your priorities." I also reported that "we formed a joint layoff mitigation team and every one of our suggestions was rejected and that we refuse to accept NO for an answer." Further, "We will take another run at developing and promoting plans that move us forward. Plans that honor employees and treat them as part of the solution and not the problem. We refuse to give up on Boeing or its people."
Not a lot has changed in the past week - but then again everything has changed.
When we went back to Boeing's representatives, we advocated for three things:
It is somewhat encouraging to report that the reactions were mixed. It was clear that Boeing's top people want to cut cash flow significantly and quickly. This expresses itself in a panic to get bodies out the door RIGHT NOW and actually breaks the discussion into two parts: before the first wave of cuts, and after the first wave. It looks like top people are locked into the plan for the first wave but willing to talk about the future.
Specifically on our issues:
* Providing severance benefits for Voluntary Layoffs: Right now people can volunteer for layoff and, except for the severance benefit, get everything an involuntary layoff would provide (including unemployment insurance). The Company's concern is that if the severance benefit is provided, too many (and the wrong) people would take this offer and leave. Certainly more experienced people would go as a result, but we believe that it would help keep demographics smooth and save money (the higher severance pay would quickly be offset by the salary saved). The Company was firm that they were not doing this, but will consider a facts-and-data discussion about what impact on the workforce this might actually have (we can use data from past experiences).
* Save as many direct employee jobs as possible:
* Replace contractors with direct employees: The math here is very simple: contractors cost more than direct employees, so it saves money to replace contractors with direct employees. We all agree to that. Also the SPEEA contract is clear: contractors will go before direct employees in given SMCs. However, it is possible for the Company to retain contractors who have skills that can't be found within the direct workforce. We also agree to go beyond the contract and see which contractor jobs could be filled with employees in other SMCs. We also agree that NO contractor shall be given an offer to go direct while Boeing is downsizing.
* Look at all outsourcing and proposed contracts: We had a spirited discussion here. Boeing's representatives stood firm that they had obligations to other companies and governments and were going to honor them. We pressed hard to have all contracts that were placed outside for capacity reasons reexamined. We also pressed hard to have contracts that are currently being examined scrutinized. We agreed to at least look into "capacity" contracts and future contracts. SPEEA's principle here is simple: we should treat companies and contracts the same as employees: if they are direct (part of Boeing), we should share the reductions with them; if they are simply contractors (external to Boeing), they should be used as a buffer to protect Boeing employees and our skill base.
* Layoffs before the holidays: Boeing's representatives are not interested in extending scheduled layoffs beyond December 14th. To be fair, we should note that Boeing employees are being given 60 days notice and a severance benefit (union negotiated) that most people in the airline industry are not getting. This is money out of Boeing's pocket, but it is being paid anyway.
Our challenge and our commitment:
We strongly believe that people should be kept on the payroll through the holidays. Laying people off just before the holidays will be remembered for years and should be avoided if at all possible. Boeing's representatives have refused to extend layoffs past the holidays. Therefore, we will step up to help make the right things happen. Therefore, SPEEA has formed the "KCLA/SPEEA Cares" fund (see related article on front page). The initial purpose of the fund will be to get people past the holidays. We will take donations from members (and anyone who wants to contribute) and cut a lump sum check to all SPEEA-represented employees laid off before the holidays. This includes ALL SPEEA-represented employees everywhere, in all states and locations within those states. The single amount will be based on average SPEEA salary for 12 days (the work and holiday days missed with a Dec 14th layoff date).
Assuming about a thousand affected people and an average salary of $55,000 this would make our goal $2.4 million dollars. This is a high goal, but it is the right goal. Breaking it down, we will reach this goal if all SPEEA-represented employees give half a day's pay; put another way, we would reach this goal if each represented employee gives one half an hour's pay each week of the 60 day notice. We have explored ECF matching funds, but the process doesn't support this quick of a turn around. We have invited Boeing's representatives to match employee funds, but (as I write this) we haven't yet received an answer. We would love to have Boeing's top people work together with us to help make good things happen. If we exceed the goal, additional money will stay in the fund to help laid-off employees in the future. If the goal is not met, then the total will be divided by the number of laid-off employees to determine the individual payout.
This is a case of the real Boeing - the employees - standing up united and committed to boldly face challenges and help make the right things happen. We welcome working together with anyone who wants to help us move forward.
This article will both begin and end as it did last week:
How we react to these challenges will demonstrate our principles and priorities. Let's make them ones that can move us all forward - both today and tomorrow.
Some Layoff-related Q&A
Q) If I receive a 60-Day Notice of Layoff, can I try to locate another job within Boeing to avoid going out the door?
A) YES. Jobs@Boeing is still up and running. You may not find too many job listings in Commercial, but there are job listings in other divisions. And SPEEA-represented employees have the right to apply for a job through this process.
Q) What is the schedule for RETENTIONS in the Puget Sound area?
A) A retention exercise for SPEEA-represented Profs and Techs in Puget Sound is underway. Retention notices will be distributed beginning DECEMBER 12TH, and the new retentions will be EFFECTIVE DECEMBER 17, 2001. [NOTE: If you receive a 60-day Notice of Layoff, your retention rating on that date will be the one which applies all the way through to your targeted date of layoff. New retention assignments do not have any affect on Layoff notices issued PRIOR to receiving your new retention. The one exception to this would be if you receive a "service adjustment" to your retention, due to your years of service with Boeing.]
Q) When laid off, if I choose "income continuation benefits" (vs. lump sum), will that affect my Unemployment Insurance?
A) It is our understanding that your Layoff Benefit is an "earned benefit". So whether you choose to take your Layoff benefit as income continuation or as a lump sum should not affect your eligibility for unemployment compensation. We urge you to apply for Unemployment during the first week you are laid off. You can go to your local Employment Security Department, or sign up "on-line" at http://www.go2ui.com.
"Dealing with Layoff - an Integrated Approach"
"Inspiring! This seminar provides a "real world' perspective."
"This was the most practical and realistic seminar I've attended about layoffs."
"I wish I had this information the day I hired into Boeing."
"This was an eye-opening experience. A fast-moving overview, with pointed examples."
This two-hour session encompasses a rational, systematic approach in coping with layoff, using a totally integrated analysis to examine all facets of this issue - i.e., psychological, professional and financial, to name a few critical ones.
The guest speaker, a SPEEA professional member with 32 years of Boeing experience, was himself the victim of the massive 1971 layoffs that almost devastated Boeing. He has used the lessons learned from this experience to develop positive approaches in dealing with layoff, not only for personal betterment, but has also shared it informally with hundreds of SPEEA members in his capacity as a skill advisor and a career counselor.
If you have received a 60-Day Notice and face imminent Layoff, this class will offer you some short-term tactics to apply immediately. For others who risk or face layoff, the information provided will better prepare you for the difficulties that lie ahead.
RSVP: Please contact the appropriate number listed above to sign up for this free workshop.
Executive Board mini-minutes
Thursday, October 4, 2001
Attendees: Craig Buckham, Alan Rice, Jerry Robinson, Richard Taylor, Ron Mathes, Tom McCarty, Pat Waters, Joe Newberry (by phone)
Council: Pat Waters, Jim Mathis, Hoyt Hillman (by phone briefly), Burt Shah (by phone briefly)
Guest: Joel Funfar, Gene Blackman, James Hatfield (by phone), Kurt Schuetz, Steve Spyridis
Staff: Charles Bofferding, Robin Fleming
At their regular meeting, the Executive Board:
* Authorized funds to hold Robin Ryan seminars for SPEEA-represented employees in the Puget Sound and in Wichita.
* Asked that SPEEA continue to find ways to keep laid off members paid through the holidays.
* Authorized funds for a sign for the SPEEA Wichita office.
* Authorized funds to replace the broken heating and cooling system in the Everett office.
* Approved new discounter Chipman Moving and Storage (Kent) and a mailing for Cogswell College.
* Heard a report on The Boeing Company's response concerning mitigation of layoffs. SPEEA has urged the Company not to lay off people before the holidays. Boeing, however, noted that they would provide severance pay and a 60-day notice. SPEEA has decided to raise funds to provide our laid off members with pay through the holidays.
* The Executive Board heard a proposal on presenting material in the SPOTLITE in a timely manner for matters pertaining to Wichita.
* Received an update on the Charleston 5, and decided to donate $200 to assist the local effort.
Future meeting dates: October 25, 2001, November 8, 2001 (1:00 start time), November 29, 2001, and December 20, 2001. The meeting adjourned at 9:30 p.m.
Contract personnel update
As of September 26, 2001, The Boeing Company reports there are 1535 engineers, 920 technical workers, and 33 paycode 6 workers hired as contract personnel holding jobs equivalent to SPEEA-represented positions, broken down by major organization as follows:
Jobs with 10 or more:
Puget Sound Profs
Puget Sound Techs
WTPU Paycode 2
NOTE: No Paycode 6 jobs in Wichita had more than 10 contractors. To see list of all contract personnel by job classification, equivalent paycode and site - ref. SPEEA website under "Hot Issues".
Everett workers assist with Wetlands Project
The Narbeck Wetland Sanctuary, a quiet area for walkers and wildlife near the Everett Twin Towers, will receive help from a group of ambitious SPEEA members.
The group, coordinated by SPEEA member Brent McFarlane, is looking for additional volunteers for upcoming weekend projects. The volunteers will help clean the area and remove some invasive blackberries along Seaway Blvd.
"This park gets a lot of traffic from Boeing employees and birdwatchers," said McFarlane. " I know SPEEA members enjoyed the quiet wetlands during the strike."
Park officials will hold an orientation session at the sanctuary for volunteers on Saturday, Oct. 20th and again on Saturday Oct. 27th. Five or more volunteers are needed for each date. Sessions will last about two hours. Gloves and work clothes are recommended.
Once a neglected swampland, the Narbeck Wetland Sanctuary is now a 50-acre site that provides wetland habitat for wildlife.
Anyone interested in helping should e-mail McFarlane at email@example.com for additional information.
Local Technical Conference offers World-Class Learning in Material and Process Engineering
The 33rd International Technical Conference of the Society for the Advancement of Material and Process Engineering (SAMPE) offers Boeing employees involved in materials processes an inexpensive and time-efficient opportunity to sharpen their skills and bring fresh ideas to the design and production of Boeing products. This highly regarded conference comes to Seattle November 4 through 8.
The theme of the conference is "Advancing Affordable Materials Technology." Mr. John Roundhill, Vice President, BCA Product Strategy and Development, will deliver the keynote address. The focus is on learning and includes 29 technical sessions, tutorials, and panel discussions with industry and scientific experts. For details on the program, visit the SAMPE web site at http://www.sampe.org/ISTCgeneral.html
The Ed Wells Initiative will pay registration and tutorial fees for a limited number of SPEEA-represented employees. The employee's home organization pays the salary. Registration details for those seeking Initiative funding are at http://EdWells.web.boeing.com/CourseConf/KCsampeISTC.html
Boeing Composites Technology Exchange
Also, the second annual Boeing Composites Technology Exchange, co-sponsored in part by the Ed Wells Initiative, will be held in conjunction with SAMPE. Visit the CTE web site at http://mrdweb.ca.boeing.com/cte/ for details and registration information.
The Ed Wells Initiative is a joint Boeing/SPEEA program for the application of technical excellence. Keep current with its learning opportunities at the event calendar on http://EdWells.web.boeing.com
An Investment Informational Workshop
Certified Financial Planners Randall S. Linde and Lori Cousineau, of American Express Financial Advisors, invite you to their "Investment Informational Workshop". Topics include:
* New tax laws . . . will they help you or hurt you?
* Is now the time to invest . . . or time to hide your money? (looking into the crystal ball)
Thursday, November 8, 2001
4:30 to 5:30 p.m. OR 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.
RSVP to (425) 793-5593. Seating is limited, so please reserve now. Refreshments will be served.
At their October 4 meeting, the Board approved adding the following firm to the SPEEA Discount List:
CHIPMAN MOVING & STORAGE (United Van Lines agent) (Kent): 425/251-0562. 20% discount off of WUTC Max tariff. SPEEA members moving from state to state will be eligible for the Boeing Corporate rates on a COD basis. Household goods or office relocations, temporary and long-term storage.