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Analyst calls SPEEA decision on Boeing contract 'total capitulation'

Boeing’s refusing to make any improvements in the contract it has offered technical workers. The union says it will now put that same offer out for another vote, a move that an analyst characterizes as giving up.

The Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace is known as SPEEA for short. It represents more than 15,000 engineers and 7,400 technical workers. Those two groups vote on their contracts separately. Last week, they split their vote. The engineers accepted Boeing’s offer, and the techs rejected it and authorized a strike.

But that put technical workers in a weak position to continue fighting to maintain the pension for new employees. That was their biggest problem with Boeing’s offer.

SPEEA president Tom McCarty told Reuters earlier this week that the pension is dead. So aviation analyst Scott Hamilton says by putting the same contract out for a vote again, the union’s giving up the fight.

"They theoretically could go out on strike, but from a practical standpoint, they were holding the weaker hand," Hamilton said. "And obviously Boeing sees that, they're not improving their offer. Obviously McCarty sees that, the pension is dead. So this is just total capitulation."

Boeing has been trying to move employees to a 401(k)-type retirement plan from the pension. A couple of years ago, the company made that change for employees who don’t belong to any union. And Boeing has successfully included that change in more than 20 other union contracts.

In July 2017, Ashley Gross became KNKX's youth and education reporter after years of covering the business and labor beat. She joined the station in May 2012 and previously worked five years at WBEZ in Chicago, where she reported on business and the economy. Her work telling the human side of the mortgage crisis garnered awards from the Illinois Associated Press and the Chicago Headline Club. She's also reported for the Alaska Public Radio Network in Anchorage and for Bloomberg News in San Francisco.