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Contract Splits Engineers, Tech Workers

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Boeing Co.'s engineers have accepted a new four-year contract while technical workers rejected their offer and voted to authorize a future strike.

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Manufacturing Group February 21, 2013

According to an Associated report, the union representing both Boeing groups had recommended rejection of the contract because it would not provide pensions to new employees, making them rely on a 401k retirement plan instead.

The union called that unacceptable, but the Chicago-based aerospace company said the change was important to its future.

The engineers and technical workers in the union work on plans for new planes and solve problems that arise on the factory floor. The two units bargain at the same time, but their contracts are separate and independent agreements, the union noted.

While a strike by the technical workers is not imminent, the vote means the negotiating team can call one at any time, says Bill Dugovich, spokesman for the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace.

The engineers' vote means those 15,500 employees have a new contract in place, Dugovich says. Union negotiators hope to resume contract talks soon on behalf of the 7,400 technical workers.

Boeing Commercial Airplanes President and CEO Ray Conner said in a statement that the company was pleased with the engineers' vote but "deeply disappointed" in the technical workers' rejection of what he called the company's "best and final" offer.

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