Boeing Co. will close its defined benefit plan to new hires in the technical worker unit of the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace, IFPTE Local 2001, after members voted overwhelmingly Monday to accept a contract offer, according to Boeing and union officials.
Members voted 4,244-654 to accept the contract offer that includes shutting the plan to new technical workers in the unit hired after March 1, 2013. New employees will enroll in only the existing Boeing 401(k) plan but have an enhanced feature of an automatic company annual contribution of 3%, 4%, or 5%, depending on age as well as the existing 75% company match for the first 8% of pay participants contribute.
Existing SPEEA local members will continue to participate in both the Boeing defined benefit plan and the 401(k). The defined benefit plan had $56.2 billion in assets and $75.9 billion in liabilities, as of Dec. 31, said Charles Bickers, Boeing spokesman. The 401(k) plan had $36.6 billion in assets as of Dec. 31.
The contract proposal was identical to the offer the technical workers unit members rejected by a 53% vote Feb. 19, while the professional engineers unit of the SPEEA local voted 54% to accept. The professional engineers and technical workers, while their contracts are separate and independent agreements, bargain at the same time.
Continuing the defined benefit plan for new hires “was one of our team's main sticking points” in the contract negotiations,” said Bill Dugovich, SPEEA communications director. “Unfortunately, it didn't work out. … It would have been difficult to strike without the engineers.”
Mr. Bickers said the new four-year contract takes effect immediately.