Retention Ratings

Boeing's desire for forced distribution stumbles into SPEEA contracts
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Boeing managers assign retention ratings to employees each year. Should layoffs be necessary, the retention ratings determine the general order of lay off.

For members in the Puget Sound Professional Bargaining Unit, “Retention Group” is defined as all employees within a single Major Organization with the same Skills Management Code (SMC).

For members in the Puget Sound Technical Bargaining Unit, a “Retention Group” is defined as all employees within a single Major Organization with the same Skills Management Code and the same level.

Approximately 40% of employees in a Retention Group are assigned an “R1” retention rating, 40% are assigned an “R2” retention rating, and 20% are assigned an “R3” retention rating. Note: Employees classified as Technical Fellows and Associate Technical Fellows are not subject to these distribution requirements.

Please read the entire page before using the Retention Appeal form at the bottom.

The general rule is that layoffs within Retention Groups begin with R3s, then R2s, then R1s. However, there are exceptions in the contracts that allow management to disregard retention ratings and layoff anyone.

Drops in retention ratings

Managers give a variety of reasons for dropping retention ratings of individual employees:

Change in the Retention Group - If the size of a Retention Group changes, the 40/40/20 split requirement must be redistributed among employees in the new group. This can affect some employees’ retention ratings. 

Layoffs - Usually after layoffs, some R3 or R2 employees in a retention group are gone, and so the 40/40/20 must be redistributed among the remaining employees. This redistribution can cause drops in retention rating for some people.

Upgrades or New Jobs - When employees receive upgrades or move into new jobs, they are ranked and rated with employees who have probably been doing that work for some time. Often employees who received upgrades or new jobs receive lower retention ratings as they adapt to the new job and get “up to speed” relative to their peers and their new expectations.

Change in Performance - Just as improvements in performance can, if they affect your relative value in the retention group, cause your retention rating to rise, periods of lower productivity can cause your rating to drop.

Changes in Assignments - Your work could change for any number of reasons. If the result is that you must learn new systems or new skills, the time this takes may affect your retention rating.

Designation - During retention exercises, employees who are rated R3 may also be “designated” by management.  This specific term used on your retention notification means that in the event of layoff, you would not be eligible for priority recall.  Employees who are “designated” must receive an “Employee Improvement Action Plan” from their manager.  This document is required to identify the specific conditions leading to the “designation,” and identify improvements which the manager deems necessary to avoid “designation” in the future.  The manager is required to have on-going discussions with the employee about the employee’s progress under the Employee Improvement Action Plan

Retention Appeals

The contractual grievance process does not apply to drops in retention ratings.  However, both the Technical and Professional contracts provide an “appeal” process for some situations.  (Technical / Professional contracts 8.4(h))

Employees have a right to “appeal” their assigned retention rating if they:

a) Experienced a drop in retention rating.

b) Received an R3 rating during four or more consecutive retention exercises.

c) Received a designation as ineligible for priority recall in the event of layoff.

Under the Professional and Technical Unit contracts, “appeals” are determined by a majority vote among a three-person panel composed of one SPEEA representative (the employee’s Contract Administrator) and two Boeing representatives (a Human Resources Representative, and either a Salaried Workforce or Employee Relations Representative).  A majority vote in the employee’s favor usually will not be achieved unless at least one management representative on the panel is convinced that “the process” was not followed.  Usually, if the employee’s manager provided any credible reason for the employee’s retention rating or designation (such as those listed above), the majority of the panel will deny the employee’s “appeal.” 

Starting an appeal

Employees who want to “appeal” their assigned retention rating or “designation” must explain the basis for their “appeal” to their SPEEA Contract Administrator within 30 calendar days following notification of the assigned retention rating.

Prior to filing a request for “appeal” with SPEEA, the employee must talk with their manager to identify the specific reasons for their retention rating or designation, and attempt to resolve the concern with the manager.

Please use the SPEEA retention “appeal” request form if you wish to “appeal” your retention rating or designation.  Make sure to attach all documentation described at the checklist at the bottom of the form.

  1. View the SPEEA Retention Appeal Request Form.
  2. Save the PDF to your computer's desktop.
  3. Complete the form and save changes.
  4. Submit the completed form and necessary documentation to your Contract Administrator.