Boeing Technical Workers Vote To Decertify Union

Employees at the Wichita, Kansas, plant now have no contract; union members claimed nonmembers paid less for benefits.

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Technical workers at Boeing Co.'s Integrated Defense Systems plant voted Tuesday to decertify their union, immediately ending representation for about 900 employees.

Petitioners seeking to get rid of representation by The Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace won the election 408-353, the union said.

''That means employees now are without a legally binding contract. We wish them well,'' said Bob Brewer, Midwest director for SPEEA.

Their present contract, which was to expire Feb. 19, 2008, is immediately voided, Brewer said.

An engineering unit representing 700 at the Wichita plant was not included in the vote and remains under SPEEA representation.

''From the company perspective, we are now looking forward to working directly with our employees to build a strong competitive Boeing in Wichita,'' said Boeing spokesman Jarrod Bartlett.

The union has seven days to challenge the vote. During that time, federal law prohibits the company from promising what benefits the employees would receive without representation, Bartlett said.

Organizers of the effort to get rid of the union contended nonrepresented workers pay less for benefits and get incentive benefits not paid to unionized workers.

One of the major issues that led to the decertification vote has been the employee incentive plan, which excludes the unionized employees at the plant. Supporters of decertification contended the union cannot guarantee they will win that benefit in upcoming negotiations, but workers would be automatically eligible for it if they do not have a union.

SPEEA represents 20,000 Boeing engineers and technical workers in Wichita and Washington's Puget Sound region, but this is the only unit nationwide that was excluded from the company's incentive plan, Brewer said.

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