SEATTLE (AP) -- The Boeing Co., whose aircraft assembly workers walked out earlier this month, responded Wednesday to union contract proposals for engineers and technical workers. Union leaders said they were disappointed with what the company had to say.
The exchange came during preparations for full-scale negotiations covering nearly 21,000 workers represented by the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace, which presented its opening proposal to Boeing on Sept. 10.
"There was some good discussion," Boeing spokeswoman Karen Fincutter said.
She said Boeing's presentation was "more of a philosophical approach" than an issue-by-issue response.
"It's disappointing that the Boeing Co. didn't ask a single clarifying question about our proposal," wrote Ray Goforth, SPEEA's executive director and chief negotiator, in an e-mail to The Associated Press. "It was disappointing that they presented a platform that articulated intent to pursue takeaways in benefits."
Boeing has said it would not try to assemble planes during the strike by members of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, which represents more than 27,000 electricians, riveters, painters and other hourly workers in Washington, Oregon and Kansas. The machinists went on strike Sept. 6. No talks have been scheduled.
SPEEA's only full-scale strike against Boeing was in 2000.
The union is simultaneously negotiating two contracts -- one for about 13,900 scientists, engineers and other professionals who earn an average salary of $82,666, and the other for nearly 6,800 manual writers, technicians and other workers with average pay of $68,157.
As with the Machinists, the overwhelming majority of the employees represented by SPEEA are in the greater Seattle area. Others are in Gresham, Ore., and Wichita, Kan. Boeing is seeking to establish a separate contract for SPEEA-represented engineers in Utah.
The SPEEA talks are scheduled to swing into high gear late next month, and negotiators hope to have a proposal ready by mid-November for mail-in voting by union members before the existing contracts expire on Dec. 1.