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Boeing Union Said To Delay Strike

February 2, 2000

SEATTLE (AP) _ Engineers and technical workers at The Boeing Co. were expected Wednesday to vote down a pair of new contract offers from the company, but a source close to the union said a strike would not occur on Thursday even if the contract was rejected.

The Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace was counting votes on the second set of offers Boeing has placed on the table. Union officials had previously said a ``no″ vote on the three-year contract is a ``yes″ vote to strike Thursday.

However, the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the union would, at least temporarily, halt its call to strike.

SPEEA has scheduled a press conference late Wednesday afternoon to discuss ``significant developments″ in the contract talks. The union represents 22,352 Boeing engineers and technicians, though only about 13,780 of those workers are actually union members.

Boeing’s previous offers for the engineering segment and the technical workers were rejected by 99 percent and 98 percent respectively. Union members are unhappy with Boeing’s latest offer on benefits, and both sides were acting as though a strike was inevitable.

``We expect both contracts to be rejected by a sizable majority,″ said SPEEA spokesman Bill Dugovich.

Voting began by mail two weeks ago, he added.

In its latest offers, Boeing compromised by keeping salary levels consistent and by backing off proposals for mandatory weekend shifts for some workers. However, the company’s offer reduces life insurance benefits and alters health benefits _ a sticking point with many SPEEA members.

Under the Boeing offers, professional workers would make a minimum of $35,000 per year, with a maximum of more than $105,000. Technical workers would have a minimum off $20,500 with a maximum of $88,200.

Boeing made its first contract offers Nov. 11. The SPEEA negotiating team recommended they be voted down and they were rejected Dec. 1, the day the old contract expired.

Talks resumed Dec. 8 and Boeing made its latest offer Jan. 13. The SPEEA team has recommended approval, but union officials acknowledged it is unlikely.

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