Nov 30 Boeing Co and the union that
represents its 23,000 engineers tentatively agreed to resume
labor talks on Tuesday, after their negotiations on a new
contract ended abruptly on Thursday.
But tension rose as the two sides sparred over efforts to
engage a federal mediator to help them reach a new labor
Boeing said late on Friday that the union had declined its
offer to attend meetings with the Federal Mediation and
Conciliation Service in Washington, D.C., on Monday.
The Society of Professional Engineering Employees in
Aerospace (SPEEA) said it had contacted the mediator before
Boeing did, and was waiting for Boeing to confirm dates for
meetings next week that it had arranged.
"We told SPEEA we'd like to start meeting with a federal
mediator Tuesday in Seattle," Boeing spokesman Doug Alder said.
"We are still working out the details with SPEEA and the
SPEEA's chief said the union was willing to meet, too, and
with a different mediator if necessary.
"I've responded that we have a mediator assigned to us ...
but if Boeing is dissatisfied with that mediator, they need to
take that up with FMCS not us," Ray Goforth, SPEEA executive
"We also don't see the need to meet in a hotel. I offered to
meet on Boeing property if that would make them comfortable."
The two sides have been negotiating since April to replace a
labor contract that expired Nov. 25.
The union has balked at a Boeing contract that it says would
cut the growth rate of compensation of professional and
technical employees. Boeing says its latest offer is much
improved over its initial proposal and reflects a tough
Talks broke down Thursday after Boeing said it wanted a
The dispute comes as Boeing looks to speed up jet production
from 52 a month to about 60 a month by the end of next year. A
walkout by the union could stop production.
Peter Arment, an analyst with Sterne, Agee & Leach,
expressed hope that the dispute would be resolved with
mediation. He noted strikes by SPEEA were rare, with the last
one occurring in 2000.
"There's still time for this to be resolved long before it
would affect Boeing's commercial aircraft production," Arment
Shares of Boeing edged down 3 cents to $74.09 in Friday