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Some Optimism in Boeing Talks

February 25, 2000

SEATAC, Wash. (AP) _ Contract talks resumed Thursday between The Boeing Co. and its striking engineers and technical workers, but a chasm remained between the two sides.

At the request of federal mediators, bargaining teams met Thursday morning _ 16 days after the walkout began Feb. 9 _ at the Doubletree Hotel here. Talks continued into the evening and were expected to continue through the weekend if necessary.

``They have spent the majority of the day looking for alternatives,″ Richard C. Barnes, the nation’s top federal mediator, told KIRO-TV. ``We have not had a breakthrough, we have not had any agreement on any of the issues, but they’re working very hard to come up with something.″

Both sides declined to give details of the talks, in accordance with rules set by Barnes, they said.

The union _ the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace _ is seeking guaranteed bonuses for all the 22,600 workers covered by SPEEA contracts. Boeing, however, has only promised bonuses based on merit. The two sides are also at odds on salaries and benefits packages.

``The most important thing is the process is continuing,″ Boeing spokesman Peter Conte said, adding both sides spent much of the day meeting independently, though negotiators met for a brief, 30-minute joint session.

An earlier two-day session of talks had been unsuccessful.

Boeing has delivered only four airplanes so far this month. In February 1999, the company delivered 47 aircraft to customers.

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