Boeing, engineers’ union reach tentative agreement that would affect pensionsNews added by Benefits Pro on January 19, 2016

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By Marlene Y. Satter

Boeing engineers may be doing without a pension in the future.

According to The Wall Street Journal, management and the engineers’ union have reached a tentative agreement on a 6-year extension to their labor contract that will, among other provisions, move the group—the last of its large unionized workers—away from a defined benefit plan.

The contract extension must still be voted on by union membership.

The Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace represents more than 20,000 engineers and technical workers at Boeing facilities across five states.

Its previous negotiations with management have not been smooth, and in 2012 it termed a contract offer from Boeing management “disrespectful,” sending it directly to members — who rejected it.

That proposed contract cut both medical and retirement benefits.

This time, however, SPEEA leadership has unanimously endorsed the proposed contract, which will transition all union employees hired prior to March of 2013 to a defined contribution plan at the end of 2018.

That follows a trend of Boeing cutting benefits in successive contracts — in 2014 it won substantial cuts in health care benefits and a move to a DC plan in its negotiations with unionized machinists and aerospace workers — and even moving work to nonunion sites around the country.

Negotiations in 2013 had preserved a DB plan for existing engineers in SPEAA, but there’s no such provision in this latest agreement.

Later this year, machinists and nonunionized employees are slated to move to a 401(k) plan after a freeze of existing pension benefits.

If the new contract is approved, it would take effect February 11 and run until October 6, 2022. Union members were surprised at the timing of the agreement.

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