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Published: Wednesday, February 6, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Boeing and SPEEA

Failure to learn from mistakes

Regarding the article: "SPEEA Council urges no": Boeing's negotiation team claims to be "all in, leaving nothing on the table." Translation of "all in": "All Chicago authorized us to offer."
That they "left nothing on the table" is true enough, since the SPEEA negotiating team would have picked up anything they'd left on the table and presented it to the membership.
Boeing had the chance to "extend the contract for another four years" months ago, and they chose to offer less than the previous contract when Boeing was not producing record profits, record numbers of airplanes, record executive bonuses, record dividend increases, and making record buy-backs of stock.
These disingenuous clichés do nothing to camouflage their refusal to fully recognize the role the engineering community had in rescuing the company from a series of extremely poor executive-level decisions.
SPEEA members are the ones who run the vital technically essential numbers for Boeing -- did Boeing really think this approach would go well?
Had they offered better matching percentages on the retirement savings plan, and made that a realistic, viable option to the defined benefit pension, a contract extension would have won the war before the battle began.
We do not want to be forced to once again present Boeing with the lesson they and their well-paid consultants obviously have not learned -- SPEEA is not a typical union. Remember the vote back in 2000? Just over half of those represented by SPEEA were members and eligible to vote, less than 100 percent of those eligible members actually voted, and the rejection of the contract offer and the strike authorization were far from unanimous. Remember the percentage of those represented by SPEEA who walked off their jobs, and stayed out? Ninety-eight percent walked out, and 95 percent stayed out in the cold rain and wind for 40 days and nights. Remember how hard it was to keep production, deliveries, and development projects going? Boeing chose to endure all that because they chose not to extend the existing contract then.
When employees are being exhorted to "flawless execution," Boeing's executives and negotiators would be wise to get it right the first time, too.
John P. Frey, Jr.
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