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Boeing Says It Will Impose Last Contract Offer
By Luis Cabrera   Associated Press
SEATTLE — The Boeing Co. said striking engineers and technical workers will get a raise today — if they decide to return to their jobs.

"It's time to get back to work and start focusing on our customers," Alan Mulally, Boeing Commercial Airplanes Group President, said Sunday.

Boeing declared an impasse in negotiations last week after a third round of talks broke down late February.

"We've all done the best job we can" in bargaining, Mulally said. "We appeal to our engineering and technical workers to join us so we can move forward."

Boeing officials said employees will receive pay raises today specified for the first year of the company's Feb. 26 contract offer. Technical workers will get a guaranteed minimum 2 percent wage increase, with a pool representing a 3 percent additional increase to be doled out selectively.

The union for 17,000 striking workers dismissed the action as an attempt to get workers to cross picket lines and called it an unfair labor practice.

"We're not coming back until they sit down at the table with us and negotiate this contract," said Tom McCarty, a member of the engineering negotiating team, who was picketing with about 75 other Boeing employees outside Mulally's news conference.

The contract offer does not guarantee engineers an increase in the first year. Performance-based raises will be granted from a fund totaling a 5 percent increase, with another 1 percent for those about to be promoted.

An additional 2 percent increase was set aside for engineers in critical skills areas such as software development and electrical engineering, Boeing spokesman Peter Conte said.

"We are implementing the last, best offer we made to our team because it's time to move forward," Mulally said.

The company will not impose other parts of the offer, however, including reductions in life insurance benefits and some changes in health insurance.

Negotiations broke down Feb. 27 between the company and the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace despite the efforts of C. Richard Barnes, head of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, and other federal mediators.

The union, which went on strike Feb. 9, has sought more guaranteed pay raises and bonuses, like those received by production workers represented by the Machinists, Boeing's largest union.

In Cape Canaveral, Fla., four Boeing electrical engineers walked off the job last week to join other striking workers. Their decision meant all 10 SPEEA-represented people stopped work on the launch of a $1 billion defense satellite scheduled for April 9.

The union represents about 22,200 Boeing employees, mostly in Washington state, but also in Kansas, California, Florida, Oregon, Texas and Utah. About 63 percent are dues-paying union members.

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