Negotiations between SPEEA, Boeing resume Wednesday

UPDATE: 6:15 p.m.: Federal mediators have adjourned the negotiations and asked that both sides return to the table Thursday morning.

The possibility of a strike looms over the contract talks that resume Wednesday between the Boeing Co. and the union for the company's engineers and technical workers.

The negotiations begin at 1 p.m. at a hotel in SeaTac, assisted by the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS). The agency's director, George H. Cohen, halted the talks on Dec. 5 for a cooling-off period.

Since then, members of the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA), IFPTE Local 2001, have been preparing for the possibility of a strike.

The union has called for a "Day of Action" Wednesday at local production sites, including at Boeing's Renton plant, to support the negotiations. SPEEA members will gather at 11 a.m. for a solidarity march inside the plant, rather than go outside onto local streets near The Landing, as has happened in the past.

Bill Dugovich, a SPEEA spokesman, said the next contract vote would also include a vote to authorize a strike.

In October, engineers rejected Boeing’s initial offer by 95.5 percent and technical workers rejected the offer by 97 percent.  The contracting talks started last April; existing contracts expired Nov. 25.

“Our goal is to get a contract that respects the contributions engineers and technical workers had to creating the record profits and 4,200-airplane backlog Boeing has today,” said Ray Goforth, SPEEA executive director, in a union press release.

“After Boeing tried and failed to build the 787 on the cheap, SPEEA members stepped up and saved the program. Everything has now turned around and the company has developed amnesia about how that happened," he said.

Doug Alder, a Boeing spokesman, said Wednesday the company's negotiating team "looks forward to sitting back down at the table with SPEEA today.

"We’ve been disappointed in the union team’s tone leading up to the re-start of talks, but our team is focused on reaching a market-leading agreement that is good for the company and good for our employees," he said.

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