Boeing labor dispute settled by arbitration

A labor dispute between Boeing and workers has been arbitrated after 13 years, resulting in the company having to pay millions of dollars for back wages and benefits.
By Richard Tomkins   |   April 22, 2014 at 2:34 PM

PALMDALE, Calif., April 22 (UPI) -- Hundreds of current and former employees of Boeing are to receive back wages and benefits from the company following an arbitration ruling.

The Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace, or SPEEA, IFPTE Local 2001 said in a statement that the amount to be shared by 484 people is $47 million, withheld by Boeing when it refused to recognize the workers were members of the union.

“Boeing spent more than a decade and countless dollars trying to break its contracts with these employees,” said Rich Plunkett, SPEEA director of strategic development, who worked the issue since its start. “It’s disappointing it took so long, but the employees prevailed.”

According to the union, the arbitration ruling was made in January and the workers, or their heirs, will be informed later this month as to what their individual awards will contain.

The awards will be based on, among many factors, the length of employment at the facilities in Palmdale, Calif., and Edwards Air Force Base. Most will receive lump sum payments – some as much as $400,000 or more, the union said.

Many current employees have already received salary increases of up to $33,000 annually, it said.

The dispute began in 2001 with the filing of a grievance when the company denied union representation to a handful of employees working jobs “covered by the union’s contracts.”

“The company denied the grievance and then refused arbitration,” SPEEA said. “With Boeing contesting and appealing every decision, the issue wound through district court, the regional office of the National Labor Relations Board and eventually to the national NLRB. Finally, the only avenue remaining was to let an arbitrator decide.”

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