NEW YORK (AP) -- The head of the engineers union representing about 21,000 white-collar workers of airplane maker Boeing Co. said a tentative labor pact could be reached Thursday.
Late Wednesday, as the president of the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace prepared to resume negotiations, she said it was likely to reach an agreement with management Thursday on a contract.
"We're pretty close," union president Cynthia Cole told The Seattle Times. "We see a lot of good things in what we are looking at."
Union members would have to ratify any contract offer.
A federal mediator who had been monitoring the talks began participating actively Tuesday, the day Boeing representatives once planned to present their final offer.
SPEEA's two contracts expire Dec. 1 but can be extended by union leaders. The union represents nearly 20,000 engineers, scientists, computer operators, manual writers and other employees in and around Seattle and about 550 in Oregon, Utah and California. A strike would not likely begin before early December at the soonest.
Both sides want to avoid another strike following an eight-week Machinists union walkout that ended Nov. 2 after shutting down Boeing's commercial aircraft assembly plants, cutting revenue by more than $100 million a day, forcing subcontractors around the world to lay off workers and costing strikers an average of more than $7,000.
A SPEEA strike would be the sixth against Boeing in the Seattle area in two decades, following earlier walkouts of 28 days in 2005, 69 days in 1995 and 48 days in 1989, all by the Machinists, and 40 days in 2000 by the engineers union.
Boeing's shares closed down $1.45, or 3.3 percent, to $42.52 on Wednesday. In the past 52 weeks, the stock has traded between $39.99 and $94.60.