SPEEA files grievance over benefit cuts

The union for engineers and technical workers at Boeing has filed a grievance over the way the company unilaterally cut benefits the union had won during its 2008 negotiations.

The union also plans to file an unfair labor practice charge against the company over the changes it made to its Learning Together Program, said Ray Goforth, the executive director of the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace.

“These cuts are clear violations of our collective bargaining agreement and the National Labor Relations Act,” said Goforth. “More than 3,300 of our members trusted Boeing to honor its promise to fund their continued education. Boeing pulled funding in a manner that breaches its own ethical standards, the company’s Code of Conduct, and forces employees to break commitments they made to schools, family and coworkers.”

Boeing and SPEEA have been fighting for months over LTP, after Boeing announced in September that it was going to make significant changes to the program, which pays tuition and other expenses for employees pursing additional education. At one point in December, the company threatened to force people who had received LTP benefits since October to repay them. SPEEA and the company were in talks over the proposed changes earlier this month, when Boeing announced it was going to impose them anyway.

SPEEA said that announcement caught them off guard, and gave lie to the company’s assertions it was involved in good-faith bargaining. “Just yesterday, we spent three hours with the Boeing negotiation team and they gave no indication that implementation was imminent,” Goforth said.

District 751 members also can — and do — get educational assistance through the Learning Together Program. Those benefits are guaranteed in the current contract, which runs into 2012.

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