In surprise move, Boeing and engineering union agree on new, extended contract proposal

In surprise move, Boeing and engineering union agree on new, extended contract proposal

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Boeing 787's in different stages of completion, in the final assembly line in Everett, Wash., on January 15, 2019.

Boeing 787's in different stages of completion, in the final assembly line in Everett, Wash., on January 15, 2019. (Mike Siegel/Seattle Times/TNS)

SEATTLE - After starting talks to work out problems with their existing contract, leaders of the engineering union at Boeing and company management reached a surprising outcome: They've agreed on a new contract that would extend to 2026, four years beyond the end of the current labor agreement.

The board of SPEEA, the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace, will recommend the proposal to its 18,000 members in the Puget Sound area.

Boeing's offer addresses union issues over the way the salary pools for raises are divided and provides paid parental and family medical leave.

Todd Zarfos, vice president of Boeing's Washington state engineering design centers, said the agreement is beneficial for both employees and the company.

"We have 18,000 reasons for thinking this tentative agreement is a good deal for our professional and technical employees," said Zarfos. "We value their contributions and recognize their continued commitment to engineering excellence."

The union board had been in talks for the past two weeks to resolve a dispute over Boeing's process for awarding salary increases. The union was also unhappy that its members didn't have access to the benefits of Washington state's new Family and Medical Leave Act.

Ray Goforth, SPEEA executive director, said the wider deal emerged as the two sides talked through those issues. They then agreed to extend the contract to Oct. 6, 2026.

"This contract does a fantastic job of solving the problems our members asked us to solve," Goforth said.

The compensation for the remaining three years of the contract, and for the extended four years, will no longer be divided based on a market salary comparison but instead will provide fixed-percentage salary pools. The contract provides 5.5% total salary raises each year for the next two years, 5% in 2022, and then 4.5% raises for each of the subsequent four years.

The deal also boosts the annual bonus awarded for meeting company performance targets by increasing its size from 3.85% of eligible earnings to 5% of eligible earnings.

In addition, SPEEA members will be entitled to 12 weeks of paid maternity/paternity leave as well as eligibility for the state's Family and Medical Leave benefits.

The board briefed the union's bargaining unit councils on Thursday, the union said.

Voting packages are now being prepared. Lunchtime meetings are being scheduled to present the offer to SPEEA members.

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