Skip to main content
Advertising

Originally published Saturday, March 8, 2014 at 4:02 PM

  • Share:
             
  • Comments (47)
  • Print

Editorial: Boeing’s retirement-plan decision a move for equity

Boeing’s switch to 401(k) retirement plans for nonunion employees reflects economic and political realities.


Seattle Times Editorial

Most Popular Comments
Hide / Show comments
The editorial says, "Despite $1.5 billion in pension contributions last year for... MORE
The Seattle Times, "for the sake of equity it had to match the concessions it... MORE
This editorial is satire, right? MORE

advertising

BOEING’S decision to transition 68,000 nonunion employees from a traditional pension to a defined-contribution retirement plan is both smart politics and smart business.

Politically, the region’s largest private employer had to move swiftly regarding nonunion benefits after squeezing the Machinists union in January to accept a pension freeze and similar transition, as 777x work hung in the balance. Boeing stopped offering pensions to new nonunion employees in 2009, but for the sake of equity it had to match the concessions it asked of unionized workers.

On the business side, Boeing’s drift away from pensions reflects economic reality and an undeniable trend across all industries. About 16 percent of private-sector American workers have pensions, while about 70 percent of workers with retirement plans are solely covered by 401(k)-style plans.

Despite $1.5 billion in pension contributions last year for 169,000 workers, Boeing, like other employers, is only a bear market away from a crushing underfunded pension liability.

Boeing’s engineers union is likely next to face the pension squeeze, when its contract is up for renegotiation in 2016. As the union executive director told The Seattle Times’ Dominic Gates, “The handwriting is on the wall.”

Editorial board members are editorial page editor Kate Riley, Frank A. Blethen, Ryan Blethen, Sharon Pian Chan, Lance Dickie, Jonathan Martin, Thanh Tan, William K. Blethen (emeritus) and Robert C. Blethen (emeritus).



Free 4-week trial, then $99 a year for unlimited seattletimes.com access. Try it now!

Advertising
The Seattle Times

The door is closed, but it's not locked.

Take a minute to subscribe and continue to enjoy The Seattle Times for as little as 99 cents a week.

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Subscriber login ►