Next Up: SPEEA
Machinists returned to
the assembly lines at Boeing Friday after four weeks on the picket
line, but there may be little time for celebration as a potential
showdown with engineers and technical workers now looms on the
Boeing reached a settlement Thursday on a three-year contract
with the 18,400 members of the International Association of
Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW.) Though forced to
capitulate on several key issues, analysts say Boeing emerged from
the strike much better than anticipated.
Approximately 25 to 30 deliveries need to be rescheduled due to
delays caused by the month-long IAMAW strike, including deliveries
to United Airlines and American Airlines. Maintenance work for
those companies was also held back by the strike.
"Our customers are counting on us, so we'll be focused on
returning to production and a steady stream of deliveries to our
customers," said Boeing spokesman Chaz Bickers to the Associated
However, contracts with the Society of Professional Engineering
Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA) are due to expire in early December,
meaning Boeing will once again face a potential battle over
pensions and wages, the same issues that prompted the earlier
walkout by the IAMAW.
SPEEA represents 11,850
engineers and 5,700 technical workers in the Seattle area, and
another 800 in Wichita, KS.
"It's exactly the same situation" as with the Machinists, said
Richard Aboulafia, an analyst for the Teal Group. "The unions have
a lot of power."
"Our hope is that the Boeing Co. has learned a valuable lesson
from the Machinists," SPEEA spokesman Bill Dugovich said, "and that
is -- put a good offer out there, meet the needs of the employees
and move forward."
"This is a world-leading company, and they should be paying
world-leading wages and benefits."
Initial proposals are still being exchanged in this year's
negotiations with SPEEA, and it is hoped a strike will be averted
long before the deadline expires. "It always comes down to
competitiveness," said Bickers. "Reasonable proposals always have a
place at the bargaining table."
SPEEA staged its first major strike against Boeing in
February 2000, walking out after negotiations over a new contract
stalled. To the mutual surprise of industry analysts and Boeing,
that walkout lasted 40 days.