June 30, 2005 23:45 ET

SPEEA Sends Mid-Western Contract Offer to Members

WICHITA, Kan.--(CCNMatthews - Jun 30, 2005) -

A contract offer that locks in pay increases and benefits for more than 2,600 engineers, technical and professional workers at Mid-Western Aircraft Systems, Inc. will be voted on by members of the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace, IFPTE Local 2001.

Contract offers for two SPEEA bargaining units are at issue. The first covers about 600 engineers for four years. The second covers 1,800 technical and professional workers for six years. The contracts would bring engineers at Mid-Western a 13.5 percent wage increase over three years while technical and professional workers are guaranteed 17.5 percent wage increases over five years. Wages are one of several items that can be reopened for further increases after year three. The union is disappointed the offers include increased medical premiums and other benefit takeaways.

Voting begins at an all-member meeting set for 1 to 5 p.m., Wednesday, July 6, at the Cotillion Ballroom, 11120 W. Kellogg Street, Wichita. Ballots will be counted and results announced at the union's Wichita Hall, 973 S. Glendale Street, on July 11.

SPEEA received the offers from Onex Corporation negotiators on Tuesday (June 28). The union secured minor changes to the offer Tuesday evening. Onex finalized purchase of the Wichita Commercial Division of The Boeing Company earlier this month and took over operations June 17. The buyer has been negotiating with unions at the plant for several months.

Both union negotiating teams are sending contract offers to members with neutral recommendations.

"It's up to the members to decide," said Bob Brewer, SPEEA Midwest director. "There are some good things in these contracts, but the teams cannot recommend contracts that have benefit takeaways."

After reviewing the offers at a special meeting Thursday, the technical and professional unit's council recommended acceptance. The engineer unit's council issued no recommendation.

The contract offers lock in wages without the 10 percent wage cuts leveled on some employees. In addition, the union secured a retiree medical plan that provides coverage at age 62 and a bereavement benefit for represented employees. Side letters to the contract speak to a recognized value of union representation, a joint training program, an incentive plan, considering an ESOP when the company goes public and making non-commission stock available to members when an initial stock offer is made by Mid-Western.

A number of the negotiated improvements are being extended by Mid-Western to other employees.

"Having a union helped all employee groups," said Charles Bofferding, SPEEA executive director. "Without the union non-represented employees would not receive many of these improvements."

The Wichita facility is the primary manufacturer of 737 fuselage and tail sections, along with various other parts for Boeing aircraft. The transition to new owners resulted in the layoff of 1,100 Wichita employees.

SPEEA represents 4,660 employees in Wichita, with 2,600 at Mid-Western and the balance working at The Boeing Company's military division. Overall, SPEEA represents 21,500 engineers, technical and professional employees in Washington, Kansas, Oregon, California, Texas and Utah.

Contact Information

    Bob Brewer, 316-682-0262
    Charles Bofferding, 206-433-0991
    Bill Dugovich, 206-683-9857 (cell)