Quality Magazine

SPEEA Engineers Vote to Accept Improved Contract Offer

October 9, 2009

WICHITA, KS - Engineers at Spirit AeroSystems have approved a new 3.5-year contract that provides a 3% bonus, annual salary increases and ensures engineers are compensated for all overtime hours above the regular 40-hour workweek.

Results from two days of voting were announced at the Wichita office of the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA), IFPTE Local 2001. The new contract covers 783 engineers at the former Wichita commercial airline division of The Boeing Co.

The contract was approved by 87% of the voting members. The tally showed 266 votes to accept and 40 to reject. Union negotiators unanimously recommended engineers accept the offer, which takes effect immediately.

“Our engineers pulled together and the company listened,” says Bob Brewer, SPEEA Midwest director. “The increase in membership allowed our team to secure the contract that employees deserve.” Main table negotiations started June 9. Approval comes after engineers overwhelmingly rejected two previous contract offers.

“The longer negotiations went, the stronger our position became,” says Chris Black, WEU chair. “We didn’t get everything, but we met our targets.”

With each round of negotiations and contract offers, union membership increased. When the third round of main table talks started in September, more than 50% of bargaining unit employees had signed cards to become union members. Today, membership stood at 57%.

“Engineers are smart people and they understand when they’re not being taken seriously,” says Ray Goforth, SPEEA executive director. “By standing together and employing a sophisticated negotiations strategy, the WEU forced Spirit to negotiate in good faith. The result was a respectful offer that SPEEA was happy to recommend.”

In addition to a surge in membership, engineers benefited from support from AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and from fellow union members in Tulsa, OK; Toronto, Canada; and Prestwick, Scotland. The new contract includes:

  • 3 percent bonus in 2010.
  • Guaranteed minimum increases in 2011 and 2012.
  • Bonuses of 5 percent to 10 percent in 2011 and 6 percent to 12 percent in the final two years based on Spirit meeting market targets.
  • All hours worked above 40 in a week are compensated. The first four hours of overtime each week are credited as “comp time.” After an employee has 24 hours of comp time, additional overtime hours are paid at straight time plus $6.50.
  • Regular employees have priority over contract labor during layoffs and shortened workweeks.
  • Employees will see medical premiums increase from 10 percent to 15 percent for the life of the contract.

    A local of the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (IFPTE), SPEEA represents 24,900 aerospace professionals at Boeing; Spirit in Wichita, KS; Triumph Composite Systems Inc., in Spokane, WA; and BAE Systems Inc., in Irving, TX.