Hundreds of Boeing workers to share in nearly $47 million in back pay

Staff writerApril 18, 2014 

Nearly 500 present and former Boeing employees will receive back payments of up to $400,000 each and raises of up to 33 percent as a result of a union victory in a labor rights dispute Boeing has fought for some 13 years.

Under an arbitrator's ruling, 484 workers involved in the disagreement over union contract rights will be paid an average of about $90,000 each and receive wage increases averaging 8.58 percent. Those payments and wage adjustments must be accomplished by May 21 according to an arbitrator.

The amounts vary depending on how long Boeing workers affected worked at Boeing facilities at Edwards Air Force Base and at Palmdale in Southern California.

The dispute involved Boeing's contention that workers at those two facilities were not covered by the union contracts that set wages and benefits at other Boeing facilities.

The Tukwila-based Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace union contended those workers were covered by those contracts.  SPEEA filed a grievance with Boeing in 2001 contesting Boeing's decision to pay those workers less than the contract required.

The company and the union fought the battle for more than a dozen years in several different forums before an arbitrator ruled in January that Boeing owed the workers for back wages and benefits.

"Boeing spent more than a decade and countless dollars trying to break its contracts with those employees," said Rich Plunkett, the union's director of strategic development.

While the number of employees working at those facilities at any one time was relatively small, over the 13 years the wages and benefits have been in dispute 484 workers have been employed there at one time or another.

Many of those workers are scattered throughout the nation including in the Puget Sound area. The union said it plans meetings in several locations to explain the back pay situation.

Some of those former workers are deceased. Their estates will receive the back payments.

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