Boeing to close DB plan to new engineers

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Boeing Co., Chicago, will close its defined benefit plan to Puget Sound, Wash.-based new hires in the professional engineering portion of the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace, confirmed Boeing spokesman Doug Adler Jr.

The professional engineers approved a new employment contract by a 54% vote on Tuesday. However, the technical workers in SPEEA rejected the new contract by a 53% vote and authorized a strike with 64% support. The professional engineers make up about two-thirds of SPEEA, and the contracts are separate. Both contracts expired Nov. 25.

Under the new contract, SPEEA employees hired after March 1 will be placed into an enhanced 401(k) plan, in which the company will contribute its current 6% match as well as a 3% to 5% age-based contribution.

Union members currently participate in the $13.8 billion Boeing Co. Employee Retirement Plan.

The move to an enhanced 401(k) plan is “very important to the company, primarily because it directly links our ability to invest in new technology and products,” Mr. Adler said.

SPEEA said Boeing's proposal slashes retirement benefits by 41%. Spokesman Bill Dugovich said SPEEA notified the federal mediator Wednesday to schedule the resumption of negotiations. A date has not been set.

Mr. Adler said Boeing is “legally obligated to return to discussions with SPEEA.”