Boeing rejects SPEEA’s extension proposal

Boeing has rejected an offer from the union representing thousands of its engineers and technical workers in the Northwest, according to a statement from a union spokesman.

The Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace had proposed that Boeing and the union move ahead in areas of agreement and in areas in which they disagree, to extend expiring contracts for four years.

In its statement Friday, SPEEA said that “while the company agreed to extend parts of the existing contracts, the offers put retirement benefits for all 23,000 engineers and technical workers, including retiree medical, at risk.”

In a statement, it released Friday, Boeing said its offer to the union would keep its health care plans in place with no increase in employee contributions.

“For new hires only, an enhanced retirement savings plan is being proposed that would replace the traditional pension,” according to the company statement. “Pensions for current SPEEA-represented employees would not be affected, and the pension basic benefit would be increased.”

Boeing and SPEEA have been in contract negotiations since last April. The current contract expired in October 2012.

SPEEA said its members will vote on the company’s offers in coming weeks. Ballots are likely to include a request to grant the negotiating teams authority to call a strike.

The company’s offers continue annual salary raise pools of 5 percent and maintain existing medical benefits. It also agreed to extend pension benefits to survivors in same-sex partnerships and marriages.

The contracts would cover 23,000 workers in Washington, Oregon and Utah.

A strike of any significant length likely would affect Spirit AeroSystems, which provides parts for all of Boeing’s commercial planes.