Questions & Answers about organizing

Following are some of the questions employees ask about SPEEA and joining a labor union at work.

I’m a professional.  What can a union do for me?

Joining with your co-workers to form a union offers many benefits. A union brings together the collective strength of you and your co-workers to ensure meaningful negotiations with management that reflect your priorities.  

Negotiations result in a legally binding contract that cannot be arbitrarily changed.  A contract is an agreement between employees and management that spells out clear policies on issues such as:

  • Wages
  • Pay raises
  • Overtime
  • Healthcare benefits
  • Vacation & sick leave
  • Scheduling
  • Retirement
  • Training and professional development
  • Workplace safety
  • Job security

What jobs do SPEEA members have?

SPEEA members perform a variety of professional and technical jobs where they work, among the most common are:

  • Engineer/Scientist:

    • Aerospace, electrical, facilities, flight, materials, mechanical, product, software,stress, structural, technical data, quality

  • Technical:

    • Designers, IT support, planners, test evaluators, technical writers, tech illustrators, aerospace analysts, schedulers, tool designers.

  • Pilots and Instructors:

    • Simulator instructor, technical pilot, safety pilot, standards pilot and instructor pilot.

Where do SPEEA members work?

SPEEA members work at the following aerospace companies:

  • The Boeing Company in Washington, Oregon, California, Kansas, Florida and Utah

  • Triumph Composite Systems, Inc., Spokane, Washington

  • Spirit AeroSystems, Inc, Wichita, Kansas

  • Any represented employee on domestic or int'l temporary assignment

Who makes decisions in SPEEA?

  • SPEEA is made up of and run by its members through a strong democratic process. SPEEA members vote on all important decisions that govern the union, including electing union leaders and our representatives to the international union (IFPTE). Within bargaining units and locally, SPEEA members elect their workplace representatives and approve their contract.

  • Union staff and trained membership assist members in negotiating contracts, filing grievances, training, benefit questions and addressing workplace issues.

Is SPEEA right for me and my co-workers?

If you are a professional aerospace employee in the United States and looking for representation, you will find that SPEEA is the only union specializing in this field.  SPEEA is the largest white collar union and represents over 25,000 aerospace professionals around the country and understands issues in the industry.

Members of SPEEA have some of the highest job standards in America for professional aerospace workers, including locking in guaranteed wage increases, bonuses, affordable health benefits, retirement security, overtime pay, and a retention process for layoffs which ensure contractors go before SPEEA members.

Each contract between our members and their employers is unique and the result of the priorities of the individual bargaining units.  See Join our union for details of SPEEA achievements.

How do we form a union where I work?

Anyone wanting to improve their working conditions with the goal of negotiating with their employer should read the information on this web site and then talk with a SPEEA union organizer who can explain the steps to form a union.

Forming a union is a process. While help is available, it’s the employees who drive the process by determining priorities, educating co-workers, planning for votes and ultimately helping to negotiate a contract. For more information email a SPEEA Organizer.

What will forming a union guarantee?

When you're recognized as a union, you are guaranteed a voice and vote on your benefits, wages and working conditions.

Do we have a right to form a union?

Yes!   The National Labor Relations Act (a federal law) protects employees who are working to organize a labor union where they work. Professional employees have the freedom to form a union and work together to improve the quality of their jobs.

A SPEEA organizer LINK can help you better understand your rights while trying to organize.  Click here for our link for more information. 

After we vote to form a union, what happens?

Once employees vote to join a union, the work begins to negotiate a contract with the employer. SPEEA  assists employees with bargaining unit surveys to determine what workers want and need in a first contract.

You, and your co-workers, elect a negotiation team from employees in your bargaining unit. Your employer must negotiate with you as unionized workers about wages, benefits and working conditions. 

Once a tentative agreement with management is reached, employees have a chance to review the agreement and ask questions about its content. Then a vote is held — no contract can be accepted unless a majority of employees vote to approve.

How much are union dues?

Union dues are reinvested in our membership and pay for contract negotiation expenses, office and support services, legal services, union communications, training for members, representation on the job, and helping new members organize into SPEEA. 

Dues are based on a percentage of the average hourly rate of employees in all SPEEA bargaining units combined. Per the SPEEA Constitution, dues are set at 85% of the average hourly rate. 
Click for the current SPEEA monthly dues.

Unlike some unions, SPEEA does not have initiation fees. In addition, newly-organized members pay no union dues until they negotiate and approve by member vote the bargaining unit's first contract.

Will I have to strike if I belong to a labor union?

No, strikes the last tool that members use when contract negotiations do not go well. Strikes are the exception, not the rule. 

The decision to strike is very serious and occurs only when workers believe that they must take dramatic action to protect their rights, wages and benefits.  Members affected by the contract have complete control over strikes and vote whether or not to approve a strike.

Can we lose our benefits if we form a union?

When you sit down to negotiate a union contract, you start with your existing pay and benefits and strategically work to achieve improvements where needed. Because these improvements are written into a legally binding contract, you are assured they will remain the same through the life of the contract.

Joining with your co-workers and forming a union is the best way to protect the benefits you now have and work to improve conditions.

Will forming a union prevent me from Speaking to my supervisor?

No. In fact, forming a union often improves workplace communication - including communications between workers and their supervisors. When employees have an agreed upon contract with management, everyone knows what to expect and there are clear ways to resolve day-to-day problems. Being recognized as a union, workplace dialogue increases as union members share in decision-making with management. Often, this results in a new environment of mutual respect.

Once we are SPEEA, will everyone have to join the union?

All non-management, non-confidential employees have the choice to become union members
once your bargaining unit is recognized. In work sites where everyone is a union member, workers find that they can act most effectively as a union because management knows that all employees are united. 

Every worker in the bargaining unit is covered by the contract, may file grievances, are represented by the union, and are represented by a union attorney in arbitration hearings. While some states have restrictive rules for union membership, the union is required to represent and provide services to everyone in the bargaining unit.

SPEEA stands for a better future for all aerospace professionals. 

SPEEA Leaders are committed to helping aerospace professionals gain the benefits and security of union representation."The SPEEA Council is committed to organizing new bargaining units to enhance the bargaining power of the SPEEA membership with our existing employers while simultaneously and judiciously extending a union voice and union wages, benefits and working conditions to other members of the defense, aerospace and aerospace-related engineering, technical and scientific community."- SPEEA Council Motion 12/09

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