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SPEEA retirees picket over Boeing’s proposed cuts

The following news release was distributed by SPEEA/IFPTE 2001:

SEATTLE (Sept. 26) — Retired engineers and technical workers will hold an informational picket from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. today at the Seattle corporate office of The Boeing Co. at the Russell Financial Center, 1301 2nd Ave. S.

About 100 members of the Engineering Retirees Society met Thursday to hear about changes the company seeks in its contract offers to 23,000 engineers and technical workers in the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA), IFPTE Local 2001. Tucked inside section 16.3 of the offers is carefully worded language that, if approved by union members, would give Boeing the authority to cancel retiree medical insurance for current retirees. SPEEA is recommending members reject the Boeing offers.

“After 32 years working at Boeing I had a promise that this health care coverage would be there for me,” said Cynthia Cole, past SPEEA president who retired from Boeing in 2010 and now relies on the benefit. “We diverted salary for years to gain this benefit. If they can take this away from SPEEA, they will take it away from everyone.”

The medical coverage is part of the retirement benefit for eligible employees. The benefit provides medical coverage for retirees between the ages of 55 and 65 years.

SPEEA negotiation teams and the union’s governing councils recommend members reject Boeing’s offers because of this and numerous other issues.  Ballots were mailed to union members last week and are due by 5 p.m., Oct. 1 for counting. The two contracts expire Oct. 6.

The union vote is a straight “Reject” or “Accept” of the Boeing contract offers. Union officials said a strong rejection should make it clear to Boeing that it must stop attacking engineers and technical workers and return to negotiations ready to negotiate.

While the majority of covered employees are in the Puget Sound region of Washington state, these SPEEA Professional and Technical contracts also cover employees in Oregon, Utah and California.

A local of the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (IFPTE), SPEEA represents 26,560 aerospace professionals at Boeing, Spirit AeroSystems in Wichita, Kansas, and Triumph Composite Systems, Inc. in Spokane, Wash.

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