Talks Between Boeing, Engineers On Hold

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Boeing continues to face challenges in union negotiations as contract talks with SPEEA are put on hold.

SPEEA engineers would be returning to work this week with a new contract had everything gone according to the original schedule. Instead, they could be entering the new year under their current contract.

SPEEA says talks ended abruptly with no return date given and said that Boeing abandoned the negotiations.

"It's very confusing. I've never seen Boeing just up and leave the table
like they have this time," said SPEEA Midwest Executive Director Bob Brewer.

But Boeing says it's all a misunderstanding and after they received SPEEA's counter-proposal, they needed time to examine it properly.

"We felt like we had communicated that to the union appropriately and it's
just unfortunate that there had been a misunderstanding in that
conversation," said Boeing Spokesman Jarrod Bartlett.

More than 20,000 Boeing engineers and professionals in the Seattle area are already working under a new contract with 20% wage increases of its four years.

The SPEEA union says the local offer was less, at 3-3.5% in the first year.

Boeing is offering a three year contract now, so Wichita' group won't be negotiating during the same year Seattle engineers do. Boeing also says it needs lower costs in Wichita to compete for more work.

But SPEEA points out that Boeing isn't in the same economic shape as the auto industry.

Boeing says negotiations aren't at an impasse, just in a recess.

Whatever happens, it's not likely to change Boeing's plans to layoff 800 in the coming year, including 150-200 engineers.

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