SEATTLE (AP) — The union representing Boeing Co.'s engineers and technical workers delivered a split decision on a new contract Tuesday, with the engineers accepting their offer and the technical workers rejecting theirs and authorizing a future strike.
The union had recommended that both units reject the contract offer because it would not provide pensions to new employees. They would have a 401k retirement plan instead.
The union called that unacceptable, but the Chicago-based airplane-maker said the change was important to the company's future.
The vote came as the company is trying to solve battery problems that have grounded its new 787s. The engineers and technical workers in the union work on plans for new planes and solve problems that arise on the factory floor.
While a strike by the technical workers is not imminent, the vote means the negotiating team can call one at any time, said Bill Dugovich, spokesman for the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace.
The engineers' vote means those 15,500 employees have a new four-year contract in place, Dugovich said. Union negotiators hope to resume contract talks soon on behalf of the 7,400 technical workers, he said.
Boeing Commercial Airplanes President and CEO Ray Conner said in a statement that the company was pleased with the engineers' vote but "deeply disappointed" in the technical workers' rejection of what he called the company's "best and final" offer.
"The realities of the market require us to make changes so we can invest in new products and keep winning in this competitive environment ..." Conner said in his statement. "That's why our proposal to move future hires to an enhanced 401(k)-style retirement plan is so important, as we have repeatedly emphasized over the course of these negotiations."