Aviation

Boeing and union’s tentative settlement in lawsuit close to wrapping up

A tentative settlement reached between Boeing and parties in a class-action lawsuit regarding payment of early retirement medical benefits and pensions appears close to wrapping up.

“We reached a tentative agreement in June,” said Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace Midwest director Bob Brewer. “Both parties are still working through the final settlement.”

When that’s complete, it will be presented to the judge in the case, Brewer said.

“We hope that will be wrapped up pretty quickly,” he said. “We’re ... within a close time frame of making some announcements on that.”

The suit was filed in 2005 by the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace and was joined by the Machinists union.

Under the terms of the court-ordered mediation process, the terms of the tentative settlement are confidential.

The lawsuit is separate from a similar lawsuit filed about the same time by former employees alleging age discrimination.

The lawsuit against Boeing seeks payment of early retirement medical benefits and pensions included in Boeing union contracts that were in place at the time Boeing sold its Wichita commercial aircraft division to Onex Corp., which created Spirit AeroSystems.

The benefits allowed the workers, under certain requirements, to retire at age 55 and receive pensions along with medical benefits that bridged the gap until they were eligible for Medicare.

The “bridge” was available for employees who were at least 49 years old and had 10 years of Boeing service.

The suit alleged that the workers, who went to work for Spirit, were laid off in the sale and thus eligible for the benefit. Boeing said they were terminated and not eligible.

Reach Molly McMillin at 316-269-6708 or mmcmillin@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @mmcmillin.

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