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Originally published October 2, 2012 at 4:25 PM | Page modified October 5, 2012 at 6:42 AM

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Boeing comes out softly as it resumes talks with SPEEA

Boeing made three immediate concessions to SPEEA and signaled a softer approach to the union as talks resumed following the big contract rejection vote Monday.

Seattle Times aerospace reporter

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The day after a resounding rejection of Boeing’s initial contract offer to its engineers and technical professionals, the company made three immediate concessions and signaled a softer approach to the union as talks resumed.

Officials of the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA) convened with management for a brief meeting Tuesday, less than 20 minutes long, at the Longacres headquarters of Boeing Commercial Airplanes.

That was long enough to get negotiations rolling again following the 96 percent rejection of the first offer announced late Monday night after mail-in ballots were tallied.

In a message to employees, Boeing said straight out that it won’t be taking a hard line, while expressing a hope for some reciprocal accommodation from SPEEA.

Besides announcing the concessions, Boeing said, “We also acknowledged that not every remaining aspect of our first proposal is a must have.”

However, the statement added that “movement on the part of both parties will be necessary to reach an agreement.”

The announced concessions address three specific union concerns:

• Boeing pledged to maintain long-term disability and basic life insurance for employees on active military leave in excess of 3 months.

• It confirmed that there will be no monthly paycheck contribution for dental coverage.

• It withdrew changes to the wording that governs retiree medical coverage, reverting to the language that is in the current contract.

In a statement SPEEA said, “Boeing negotiators acknowledged the overwhelming rejection of their contract offers and modified their positions on a couple of members’ issues.”

SPEEA spokesman Bill Dugovich said the union restated its interests and asked Boeing to be forthcoming about some outstanding information requests.

The two sides agreed to work internally for the rest of this week and to meet for a full negotiation session next week.

”We’ve got a lot of work to do,” said Dugovich.

Dominic Gates: (206) 464-2963 or dgates@seattletimes.com

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