WICHITA, KS-Engineers represented by the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA), IFPTE Local 2001, have approved a three-year contract with The Boeing Co.'s Wichita Integrated Defense Systems.

Union members cast ballots December 20 on Boeing's second contract offer. The first offer was soundly defeated earlier in the month. The most recent vote was approved by 73% of the voting members. The tally showed 184 for and 69 against the offer. The new agreement is effective immediately as the previous contract expired December 5.

The contract gives represented employees a 4.5% lump sum bonus before the end of the year. In addition, the contract creates pools for wage increases of 5% in year one, 4% in year two and 4% in the final year. Individual employees are guaranteed a 1% increase in each year and a total of 4.5% over the three years of the contract.

By returning to the bargaining table after the initial rejection, the union secured an agreement to form a joint compensation committee with Boeing to investigate and determine appropriate market base pay for the aerospace engineers. In the past, Boeing has supplemented the wage pools with additional money.

Additional improvements include switching the contract from a four- to three-year agreement, keeping Wichita engineers in sync with Boeing engineers in SPEEA's Puget Sound bargaining units. In addition, the union secured a letter of understanding recognizing the need to find a replacement for medical coverage for employees who retire early. While the benefit remains for qualifying existing employees, it will not be available to employees hired after December 31, 2006.

SPEEA represents 4,660 employees in Wichita at Boeing and Spirit AeroSystems Inc. Overall, the professional union represents 22,200 engineers, technical and professional employees in Washington, Kansas, Oregon, Utah and California. SPEEA also represents workers at BAE Systems Inc. (Irving, TX) and Triumph Composite Systems Inc. (Spokane, WA).