With only weeks that lie between now and the deadline for new contracts, negotiations between Boeing and engineering union Society for Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA) are rife with frustration.
Ray Goforth of the SPEEA -- which represents more than 23,000 employees in the Puget Sound area, according to the Seattle Times -- told the newspaper that the ongoing talks are "the most offensive and disrespectful negotiations I've ever been part of."
Boeing seems equally alienated from its negotiating partner. Commercial Airplanes' head of engineering Mike Delaney told the Times he's "taken aback" by the talks with the union and "a sea change in the relationship."
Boeing's proposal will provide employees with a salary increase at roughly the rate of inflation, reduce medical benefits and replace the current pension program with a 401(k) plan that SPEEA says will lower retirement benefits by up to 40 percent, according to the Times.
The contract would bring Boeing's current retirement plan value, which is 70 percent higher than the national average, down to a level 13 percent higher than the national average, but that Boeing is confident it would still attract top engineers.
Goforth told the Times that the retirement plans for new hires is a deal-breaker.
Frustration over the plan already spurred about 50 SPEEA members to demonstrate in a Renton assembly plant chanting union slogans through bullhorns.
Union members will vote to accept or reject the initial offer over a two-week, mail-in vote.