Boeing engineers urged to reject labor offer

Tensions are rising between planemaker Boeing Co. and the union that represents its engineers, most of whom are based in the Pacific Northwest.

SEATTLE — A union representing Boeing engineers urged them to reject the planemaker’s contract offer in voting slated to end five days before the current agreement expires.

Leaders of the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace unanimously voted against the offer in a meeting Monday, said Ray Goforth, the union’s executive director. Ballots will be sent to the 23,000 professional and technical members this week and counted after 5 p.m. Oct. 1.

“There’s nothing in this proposal that is worth accepting,” Goforth said, calling the wage increases the lowest in decades.

A Boeing spokesman, Doug Alder, declined to comment. Boeing said Sept. 13 that it was offering employees raises while also seeking larger contributions toward health-care insurance. The current contract for the workers, who are mainly based in the Seattle area, ends Oct. 6.

Boeing engineers who are permanent employees at the company’s 6,000-worker 787 campus in North Charleston are not in the union.

The union is negotiating its new contract during a record production increase for Boeing. The planemaker plans to boost output 60 percent over four years, work through a backlog on the 787 Dreamliner that mushroomed amid more than three years of delays and develop variants such as the 737 Max.

The company’s profitability makes its proposal particularly unattractive, Goforth said. Boeing has raised its dividend 10 percent since 2008, when the unions’ last contracts ran out, and chief executive Jim McNerney’s total compensation has increased 21 percent to $22.96 million.