Union Proposes A New
Way To Negotiate Union Contracts With Boeing
By Shane Nolan
June 13, 2011 - Recognizing the need to avoid disruption to airplane production, the union representing nearly 22,000 engineers and technical workers at The Boeing Company is proposing the two sides use binding binary interest arbitration to resolve fiscal differences during the next round of contract talks. Agreement to the proposal eliminates the possibility of a strike or lockout.
Existing SPEEA contracts with Boeing expire December 2, 2011 for 600 engineers in Wichita and October 6, 2012 for 21,000 engineers and technical workers across the western United States.
The Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA) is a local of the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (IFPTE), represents 24,600 aerospace professionals at Boeing, Spirit AeroSystems in Kansas, Triumph Composite Systems, Inc., in Spokane, Wash., and BAE Systems, Inc., in Irving, Texas.
Boeing continues to build South Carolina to begin
assembling Boeings new 787 Dreamliner. The plant will
house 1,000 nonunion workers and begin assembling planes
by July .
binary interest arbitration, the union and company create
negotiation rules that submit any fiscal disputes to an
independent arbitrator who, like a judge, decides the issue. The
dispute is reduced to fact-and-data-driven arguments. The
arbitrator?s decision is final. The innovative proposal was
outlined to the union?s 150-member governing council Saturday
morning (June 11) by SPEEA Executive Director Ray Goforth. SPEEA
is holding its annual convention in Seattle this week.
?Interest-arbitration isn?t perfect, and it?s not appropriate if
either the union or the employer intend to use raw power to gain
more at the bargaining table than they could otherwise justify
to a neutral arbitrator. But if both sides intend to be
reasonable and rational, interest-arbitration is a way to solve
fiscal disputes without the collateral damage that comes from a
strike or lockout,? said Goforth.
?We have a responsibility to show leadership.? Goforth continued. ?Our national polity is currently engaged in a series of heated conflicts about the rights of corporations versus organized labor. Our national economy is teetering on the edge of a double-dip recession. The national momentum points to conflict and chaos. Rather than get swept up in that momentum, we can charter a different model of dispute resolution. Boeing is an aerospace leader. Boeing has the chance to partner with SPEEA to become a labor-relations leader.?
Back in April the
NLRB Acting General Counsel Lafe Solomon issued a complaint against the
Boeing Company alleging that it violated federal labor law by deciding
to transfer a second production line to a non-union facility in South
Carolina for discriminatory reasons.
in 2007 that it planned to assemble seven 787 Dreamliner airplanes per
month in the Puget Sound area of Washington state, where its employees
have long been represented by the International Association of
Machinists and Aerospace Workers. The company later said that it would
create a second production line to assemble an additional three planes a
month to address a growing backlog of orders. In October 2009, Boeing
announced that it would locate that second line at the non-union
statements to employees and the media, company executives cited the
unionized employees? past strike activity and the possibility of strikes
occurring sometime in the future as the overriding factors in deciding
to locate the second line in the non-union facility.
The NLRB launched
an investigation of the transfer of second line work in response to
charges filed by the Machinists union and found reasonable cause to
believe that Boeing had violated two sections of the National Labor
Relations Act because its statements were coercive to employees and its
actions were motivated by a desire to retaliate for past strikes and
chill future strike activity.
?A worker's right
to strike is a fundamental right guaranteed by the National Labor
Relations Act,? Mr. Solomon said. ?We also recognize the rights of
employers to make business decisions based on their economic interests,
but they must do so within the law. I have worked with the parties to
encourage settlement in the hope of avoiding costly litigation, and my
door remains open to that possibility.?
To remedy the
alleged unfair labor practices, the Acting General Counsel sought an
order that would require Boeing to maintain the second production line
in Washington state. The complaint did not seek closure of the South
Carolina facility, nor did it prohibit Boeing from assembling planes
At present a legal
is playing out across the South and in Congress. Boeing reports the
South Carolina plant offered a lot of incentives to get the plant,
however the union stated Boeing broke the law and violated workers'
Boeing is among
the largest global aircraft manufacturers by revenue, orders and
deliveries, and the third largest aerospace and defense contractor in
the world based on defense-related revenue. Boeing is the largest
exporter by value in the United States. Its stock is a component of the
Dow Jones Industrial Average.
Candy Eslinger, a
spokeswoman for Boeing in South Carolina, says she can't talk
specifically about the union complaint. But she says it hasn't changed
anything at the plant. "Our plans are still going forward," Eslinger
reported. "We will be starting production here in July of 2011 and we'll
deliver our first airplane out of South Carolina in 2012." Tim Neale a
Boeing spokesman stated that Boeing negotiated with the union buts
company efforts failed.
"We were looking to make a new investment and new production capacity," Neale says. "Our current contract acknowledges our right to locate work elsewhere and that's what we chose to do in this case, because we just couldn't get the terms from them that we needed." South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley (R), criticized the union's complaint on Fox News "It really is very offensive, it's an assault on everything that we know to be American and they have to stop this."
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