Quality Magazine

Boeing Delays Possible at Wichita IDS plant

December 4, 2008

WICHITA, KS – The Boeing Company is risking further delays to programs at its defense plant here and now throughout its commercial airplane division by pushing an unacceptable contract offer on engineers represented by the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA), IFPTE Local 2001.

Contract talks opened November 17 for 700 engineers at the Wichita Integrated Defense System (IDS) plant. After initial progress on non-economic items, negotiations soured when Boeing failed to respond to union counterproposals and made an initial wage offer that union negotiators said “failed to meet our team’s lowest expectations."

To help Wichita engineers negotiate a respectful contract, union negotiators and leaders are planning a “work-to-rule” campaign for more than 21,000 engineers and technical workers SPEEA represents at Boeing in Kansas, Washington, Oregon, California and Utah. The effort could eliminate voluntary overtime, and result in engineers and technical workers meticulously following all workplace procedures, safety rules and contract terms, according to Ray Goforth, SPEEA executive director.

“Boeing and SPEEA set an example of respectful contract talks in the recent Puget Sound negotiations. It’s disappointing to see this stark contrast for engineers in Kansas,” Goforth said. “SPEEA members throughout the country are prepared to use their leverage to ensure our members in Kansas receive a respectful contract offer.”

Work at the Wichita plant presently includes Italian and Japanese 767 tankers, E-4B (747 Airborne Operations Center) and the E-737 Australian Wedgetail (Airborne Early Warning and Control Aircraft). The Italian tankers and Wedgetail are already four years behind schedule.

Negotiations resumed December 2 after a one week break for the Thanksgiving holiday. Boeing and SPEEA negotiated contracts for engineers and technical in Washington, Oregon, California and Utah that provide wage increases of 20 percent over the next four years. The agreements also improve retirement, medical coverage, maintain the pension benefit for new employees and give employees input into future decisions on outsourcing.

In October, Boeing IDS announced third-quarter profits of $845 million, up 4 percent from the same quarter last year.

A local of the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (IFPTE), SPEEA represents 24,600 aerospace professionals at Boeing, Spirit AeroSystems in Wichita, Triumph Composite Systems Inc., in Spokane, WA, and at BAE Systems Inc., in Irving, TX.