December 14, 2001 Newsletter #1861
By Jerry Robinson, SPEEA Secretary
During my second visit to London in November on company business, I took advantage of an opportunity to attend the launch of the merger of two engineering labor unions in England. The labor unions - IPMS (Institution of Professionals, Managers and Specialists) and EMA (Engineers & Managers Association, a union formed in 1913) - merged on November 1st to form a new labor union now known as 'Prospect'. The launch ceremony was held on the evening of November 7th.
EMA President Ray Arrowsmith attended our SPEEA Leadership conference conducted in June 2001 in Bellevue, WA; and SPEEA NW Regional Vice President Alan Rice attended EMA's annual conference, held in Bristol, England in April.
Prospect represents 104,000 members across a diverse range of professions including archeologists, scientists and veterinarians, as well as engineers. I learned that in England engineers promoted into management still have labor rights to representation. I was impressed with the services Prospect offers its members, and can serve as an example for SPEEA.
I hope to continue forging an understanding between labor unions in the U.S. and England so that when engineers move between countries they will have a common bond and support from labor. I learned that my engineering associates at the Civil Aviation Authority and QinetiQ are also members of Prospect. My hope is that Boeing engineering employees working with professionals from England will further the bond between labor organizations by being informed and, if their colleagues also belong to Prospect, to promote a mutual education.
At the launch ceremony, I got to meet Gordon Brown, the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Treasury Secretary); Lord Brett, from the House of Lords; and Des Turner, Labour Party MP from the House of Commons. I was able to inform them about SPEEA and learned that these individuals were aware of our strike in March 2000 and followed our web page. Des Turner arranged for me to attend the Prime Minister's Question time on November 14th in Parliament. It was a different experience. I saw the Prime Minister being drilled by the opposition party with groans, sarcastic comments, and laughter at times during his response to questions - a situation quite different than when our President addresses the US Congress. The Prime Minister must be able to think on his feet during such a period. However, when the Prime Minister made his statement concerning Great Britain's participation in the Post-Taliban Government in Afghanistan, I noticed that the entire House stood in silence and expressed their support and agreement with the Prime Minister. All during the session, there was concern expressed over the downturn in employment experienced by airlines and various industries since the violent acts of September 11.
Finally, during the weekends, I was able to see other parts of England, to follow the trail of our Pilgrim Fathers from Scrooby to Plymouth as well as learn more on the former African slave trade industry. I was able to appreciate the sacrifices made by the Pilgrim Fathers to come to New England. As I walked down the small streets of the village of Scrooby, in Nottingham, north of Sherwood Forest (Robin Hood country), I said to myself that on these small streets lie the roots of American religion and democracy. It was an experience that I will always treasure! I thank The Boeing Company and SPEEA for this opportunity.
Notes from the Executive
What a year it has been. This month's SPOTLITE will feature an article listing many of the year's events. It chronicles a doubling of our membership, our first Washington State Convention, (I think it missed our first ever National AFL-CIO convention), election of Regional Officers and the beginning of a partnership with Boeing.
Yes, it's been quite a year, and as a group we have accomplished much. We have also endured much. Great friends and supporters passed away, over 1,000 lay-off notices were distributed to our colleagues in our union and thousands more to co-workers at Boeing - all while Boeing is increasing employment overseas.
It used to be that the winter holidays were a time for reflection; a brief pause in our otherwise hectic daily existence. Those days are gone. Today we do not have the luxury of a lasting reflection. The world as we know it is changing fast. Unless we want to be washed over by the changes that are coming, we must take only the briefest moment to reflect on the past and then quickly adjust our focus to the future.
As historic as last year was, next year is going to be one for the books. It will be our first negotiations in the Puget Sound since our historic strike. I would love to be able to say that our last strike made it clear that we are not a group to be trifled with; that we want a partnership and we will work hard to have a good one but we will not stand for an attack on employees. It would be fantastic to say that Boeing's decision-makers had heard and understood; that they were as committed to a meaningful partnership as we were. That they clearly understood that people are as important as profits and we could count on them to do the right thing in the upcoming negotiations. Regrettably, I can say no such thing. This doesn't mean that we won't have a good negotiations that accomplishes much and helps position Boeing to recover with a vengeance when the time is right. It is possible; it just isn't certain. And this is why we must come together as a group to push for what is right in positive ways. Clearly Boeing needs help, Boeing needs to re-center itself on what has made Boeing mean what Boeing means - the people.
We all have something to do. As individuals we need to begin thinking about and doing things that will support our negotiations. As a union we need to help those who want to join us to increase our negotiating power (read this as make organizing a TOP priority). We also have got to present the facts and data to enable a thoughtful and responsible conversation about where Boeing is today and where we're headed for tomorrow. Frankly, I have heard one too many times that "Boeing is cutting employees as an act of survival." The truth is that Boeing is still going to make $2 billion this year, employees are being cut, not as a matter of survival of the Company, but rather in an attempt to preserve double-digit profit margins. This is wrong; it is wrong to consider people as disposable, and it is wrong to treat a high-tech workforce this way and retain any hopes of having an energized group that can carry a company forward in strong and positive ways.
We will continue our push for a real partnership and an open dialogue about what Boeing is planning to do. Our position is easy to understand: tell us the plan; if it makes sense (even if it has some pain in it), we can help find ways to move forward - if it doesn't make sense, we can help identify the weakness and help save Boeing from making a terrible mistake. The biggest mistake we should help Boeing's decision-makers avoid is underestimating us for a second time in a row.
Now is a time to spend a little
time looking back, but even more time looking ahead and planning to help
make good things happen.
"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 emcompasses 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.
Council vacancy - R-40
There is a vacancy in the Council position for District R-40 (Profs & Techs, Longacres). If you reside in this district, meet the one-year membership requirement, and are interested in taking on the duties of being the workplace leader for your Union, please contact Terry Hall for instructions on how to apply (206/433-0995 x130 or firstname.lastname@example.org).
Petitions received in our office by noon the day before each monthly Council meeting are reviewed by the Tellers Committee. If a seat is unopposed, the Tellers automatically seat a person with a valid petition. If there is opposition, ballots are mailed to members in that district. The next Council meeting is on Thursday, January 17, 2002 (so next deadline is noon, Wed., Jan. 16).
NMSU-Boeing Graduate Distance Education information session-
December 17th, 2001
Representatives from the New Mexico State University-Boeing Graduate Distance Education Program will be in the Seattle area on Monday, December 17, 2001. They will be available to answer your questions regarding engineering graduate degree programs in:
NMSU also offers Professional Development certificates in:
If you are interested in learning more about these educational opportunities we invite you to attend the following Information Session
For additional information you may contact Natalie Patterson at (425) 234-2362, or Christina Brumm at (505)-522-1213; or visit the NMSU-Boeing Web page at http://me.nmsu.edu/boeing/index.html
New Retentions effective December 17th
A retention exercise for Puget Sound based Profs and Techs is underway. New retentions will be effective Monday, Dec. 17th.
If your retention rating dropped from your last assignment, you may be eligible to "appeal" (per Tech contract section 8.3 and Prof contract section 8.4). We encourage you to check out our brochure on filing an appeal, which is posted on our website at
Petitions due January 23rd for Executive Board candidates
In 2002, there are three offices up for election on SPEEA's Executive Board:
Seven members comprise the SPEEA Executive Board - these positions plus four regional Vice Presidents (who are elected in odd-numbered years). Terms of office are two years. The Board administers the affairs of SPEEA according to our governing documents. Through meetings, generally every two weeks, the Board prepares the annual budget, monitors expenses, and directs SPEEA's activities through the Executive Director.
Qualifications: To apply, you must have been a SPEEA member continuously for at least two years. A qualifying petition must be completed and signed by at least 20 SPEEA members. Application forms, along with complete instructions, are available at the SPEEA offices.
Deadline: Petitions must be turned into SPEEA Headquarters (either mailed, hand-carried, or faxed) no later than 5:00 p.m., Wednesday, January 23rd. Late petitions cannot be accepted.
Candidates will be asked to submit a 250 word-or-less platform statement, 25-word or less statement of qualifications, and responses to five questions, limited to 1,000 words - by Monday, January 28th.
Ballots will be mailed by February 27th and counted on March 13th. New Board members take office March 27th.
If you have questions about this process, or the responsibilities of the Executive Board, please contact a staff member, Board member or former Board member.
Midwest Region News
WTPU open enrollment period has been "trying"
The annual open enrollment period for the WTPU unit has been quite trying for many involved. It's apparent that Wichita Benefits representatives were not fully involved in the process gearing up for this event. But SPEEA's staff and leaders in Wichita are now working with local Benefits folks to work out any remaining problems and issues.
SPEEA has appointed two Council Reps - Steve Smith and Earl Carter - as focals to answer general benefits questions. This will relieve some of the load from the local Benefits representatives so they can attempt to resolve bigger problems.
On Wednesday, December 5th, SPEEA-Wichita hosted a lunchtime session for their Council Reps to ask questions of local Benefits representatives, and have any concerns addressed. Attendees agreed it was a very good meeting. A Q&A sheet for some of the commonly-asked questions was distributed to those who attended. Council Reps armed with this information can now try to answer some of the questions they are hearing in the workplace, without having to refer them to the Benefits representatives.
Working Together, SPEEA CAN make a difference!
SPEEA CASE HISTORY
Office of Support Enforcement - Who are they accountable to?
A Boeing employee expressing a unique concern recently contacted the Everett SPEEA office. This employee, whose present assignment and status keeps him relatively insulated from potential layoff, received a pre-emptive garnishment form from the Office of Support Enforcement (OSE). The employee vividly expressed his initial high level of anxiety when receiving anything from their offices, and then that anxiety changed to anger once he understood what they were actually doing.
This employee immediately telephoned his "person to contact". The representative from OSE stated that this was a mass mailing directed to all Boeing employees with case numbers. [The employee didn't know if this was initiated in the Everett office of the Department of Child Services (DCS) only.] The representative said that, over her objections, she was ordered by her supervisor to do this. The employee then asked to speak to her supervisor.
The second person he talked with was the supervisor. After telling the supervisor about the documents that he received, he asked her why they were sent at all? Her reply was "it's policy". He pressed her on this by asking what policy? She seemed to side-step the questions. The Boeing employee continued to ask for the policy numbers. After holding for several minutes (he heard her shuffling papers and books), she told him that she could not find the exact policy but it was covered under RCW 26.23 and RCW 74.20A (as shown on the documents). He asked her which individual ordered that these documents be sent. She refused to answer. He again said, regardless of "policy" someone had to direct that the documents be sent. She came back with the same reply, that it is "policy".
The employee asked the supervisor why, at this time, were these sent out? She said they are "sent out periodically". Then he asked the following: "So it is likely that all employees of, for example, the Everett School District that pay child 'support' through Everett DCS also received these frightening documents?" The supervisor said, "It's possible". The employee offered another example asking if employees of say, the Everett Herald (who pay "support" through Everett DCS) received such humiliating documents? Her reply "it's possible". It seemed clear that the supervisor was not being forthright in her answers. In seven years of perfect payments (a perfect "record" as they say, which is humiliating to hear), he had never seen or heard of such a policy.
This employee has not received a lay-off notice nor a WARN. As a matter of fact, he is not in danger of losing his job at all. It appears that at least the Everett office of DCS decided to send these to employees who fit the category of child "support" paying fathers and who possibly, someday may become unemployed! The Employment Security Office has to do something with the documents also. What a waste of State resources! What a slap in the face! Why should this employee be singled out to receive an Order to Withhold and Deliver Employment Security? Why should he receive a Withholding Notice? This pre-emptive garnishment was inappropriate and insulting. It was nothing less than profiling. How many other fathers had been profiled the same?
After hearing about the bureaucratic faux pas, the SPEEA Contract Administrator pointed out a very simple and efficient remedy. If OSE would have simply asked Boeing to match the current support orders that they were complying with to the prospective layoff notices, the pre-emptive garnishments could have been sent to merely those vulnerable to immediate layoffs. This would have greatly reduced the initial paperwork generated by OSE and also minimized the filing activity of the Employment Security offices.
This employee has identified a gross waste of State resources instigated by the OSE bureaucracy. When he tried to raise awareness and relieve the anxieties caused by their unexplained actions, he received the grand "run around" by this State agency. When he shared his experiences of OSE with his Contract Administrator, both individuals had separate stories of the cavalier and non-accountable actions of this agency. Even though the department did not change their previous course, the question still has to be asked to the politicians in Olympia:
"Office of Support Enforcement - Who are they Accountable to?" [BR]
Childcare available at Everett, Longacres
Employees in the Puget Sound area searching for quality childcare can find it at the Boeing on-site family centers at Everett and at Longacres in Renton. Both centers currently have openings.
For specifics, call the centers at Longacres (206) 766-2866, and Everett (425)-294-5437. For information about the program visit the Boeing Family Centers' web site:
If you need additional help finding childcare, Family Care Resources can do a thorough search using your criteria to find just the right fit. Visit the Family Care Resources web site:
Shared Services Group offers Boeing childcare centers and Family Care Resources to help employees find that perfect balance of work and family life.
Decisions made in haste
A member was recently referred to the SPEEA offices for assistance after receiving a downgrade of one level along with a significant drop in annual salary. Even more discouraging was that his ongoing job assignments did not change at all. This prompted the Contract Administrator's (CA) inquiries as to what was actually going on.
Approximately 6 months prior, the employee's manager assigned him as a temporary lead of his group. While in this capacity, management classified him at a higher level and pay associated with the "lead" duties he was performing. During the ensuing months, interviews were conducted for the open position including this particular employee. His management readily acknowledged that he was the prime candidate for that position.
Then came the tragedy of September 11th. With the industry being devastated by the wake of that day, the Company chose to suspend all "requisitions" including this employee's bid for this position. To add insult to injury, they chose to take away his temporary grade and promotion money.
The Contract Administrator approached this matter similar to any grievance for reclassification. The employee prepared and supplied an Engineering Classification Worksheet (ECW) along with his Performance Management forms. While the CA was preparing the Step 3 grievance, he also chose to present the issue verbally to the Company's Union Relations focal. Based on this person's investigation, the skill team decided to restore the employee's grade and pay retroactively to the date they were changed.
SPEEA's involvement here proved to be a "sanity check" for the Employer. During the time immediately after the devastation of September 11th, decisions and actions were made in haste. The deliberate process taken by the CA ensured that the correct outcome occurred for the employee. [BR]
SPEEA Makes A Difference!
Employee finally gets what the doctor ordered
Recently we received a few calls from employees on the Traditional Medical Plan who had experienced problems in getting their prescriptions filled through the Postal Prescription Service (PPS).
One employee was about to run out of her medication and still had no confirmation that her order was en-route. Her problems were compounded by the fact that a recent move and computer upgrade by the provider had made access to their automated phone system a bit difficult.
The employee contacted her SPEEA Contract Administrator for assistance. After contacting Company representatives, several calls were made.
The following Monday the employee received a rush order by the provider and she received her medication.
The employee was pleased with the response by the provider, and the assistance from SPEEA. Ultimately, she got just what the doctor ordered. [MM]
SPEEA does make a difference!
QUICK REFERENCE GUIDE FOR THE SPEEA WEBSITE
By mark Moshay, SPEEA Contract Administrator
Our website is a wonderful resource for information on so many issues. However, one of the drawbacks to having so much information available is that it becomes difficult to display. When someone visits the website, they often have a specific question they want answered. The challenge for us is to figure out how to help folks find what they're looking for.
The following information is provided to give an overview of how our site is currently laid out. We have also included some links to items of particular interest at this time.
The first view of our site offers eight (8) different links from which to choose:
Who Is SPEEA contains information regarding the Structure of SPEEA (history, governing documents, etc), contact info., maps, office hours, union officers and staff e-mail addresses and phone numbers. There is also a Contract Administrator locator on this page.
Hot Issues is designed to provide info on current issues of high importance. This includes layoffs, upcoming negotiations, the partnership agreement and current salary charts.
Organizing will take you to a web site related to our organizing efforts.
General Info is a treasure chest of information. You can find current copies of all the contracts, agency fee and dues information, upcoming meetings, committee info, seminars, workshops, and information related to pay and medical issues.
Publications features the current Newsletter and SPOTLITE. You can view previous editions by clicking on the "Past Issues of Publications" sub-link.
SPEEA Wichita is specially designed to cover Wichita-specific info, including the current contract, leadership info, district delineation, and membership application.
Related Links contains links to other union organizations, health care info, Boeing Employee related sites, government agencies, labor law and various engineering societies.
SPEEA Archive contains information on past issues - last negotiations, the strike, benefits, contract enforcement, compensation, and medical benefits.
SEARCH ENGINE - The search engine (located in the upper left hand corner of each page on our site), is another tool to help you find what youre looking for. Click on the word, "SEARCH" then type in the key words for your search.
Example: If you wanted to find retirement information, type the word "retirement" in the search window and then click on "New Search." There are several options you can use to filter your request. The search engine works relatively fast and arranges the responses in order of relevance (note the percentage listed near the end of each entry).
Hopefully, you will become familiar with the SPEEA web site. It has become an important component of our effort to keep members informed on a wide range of issues. SPEEA tries to post new information of interest as soon as practical.
We welcome your suggestions on how we can improve the site.
SPEEA Continues to MAKE A DIFFERENCE!