Boeing’s engineer union continued voting on a new contract Monday, as the deadline on whether to accept or reject and possibly strike looms. The deadline is Tuesday at 5 p.m.
The union, SPEEA, represents 23,000 engineers. It has been negotiating with Boeing since October when the union rejected an earlier contract. Key to the union is Boeing’s plan to take new employees off a pension and put them into a 401k.
Union President Tom McCarty said Monday there is no way a contract can be approved without a pension.
“That’s what we have been saying to our members,” McCarty explained, “Reject this contract.”
SPEEA went on strike in 2000 for 40 days, which delayed production of 50 planes and took a chunk out of Boeing’s revenue. McCarty said the strike worked then, and it would work now.
“We may as well negotiate for the best deal we can. If we settle for less, there’s no guarantee the work will stay here.”
Even if the contract is rejected and a strike is authorized, employees would not walkout for at least a month. In the interim, negotiations would resume with federal mediators, McCarty said.
When asked for comment, Boeing released a letter it sent to employees that reiterates existing workers will not be affected by the change in pension, and that a change to 401k for new engineers is “important…to our company’s future.”
Judy Mogan, a SPEEA member and engineer, said it would be “insane” for Boeing to force a strike.
“I’m prepared to go on strike,” she said Monday, “But I don’t think we will.”