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Boeing engineers, techs split on new contracts


Boeing's engineers have voted to accept the US aerospace giant's offer on a new four-year contract while technical workers rejected theirs and authorized a possible strike, their union said.

The Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA) union announced the vote tallies late Tuesday, as Boeing works to fix a battery problem that has grounded its 787 Dreamliners.

"There are pathways to a negotiated agreement available," SPEEA's executive director Ray Goforth said in a statement.

"It's time for the company to stop wasting resources and improve its offer to reflect the value and contributions technical workers bring to Boeing," he said.

"That way, we can avoid a strike and focus on fixing the problems of the 787 and restoring customer confidence in Boeing."

Boeing welcomed word that the engineers had approved their contract.

"However, the company is deeply disappointed that technical employees rejected the company's best-and-final offer and authorized a strike," it said.

Engineers and technical workers negotiate at the same time but their contracts are separate agreements, SPEEA said, adding that union members had "overwhelmingly" rejected a previous offer.

SPEEA last went on strike for 40 days in 2000.

On January 16, the 50 Dreamliners in service around the world were grounded after a battery fire on a Japan Airlines plane parked in Boston, and battery smoke on an All Nippon Airways flight forced an emergency landing.

The Dreamliner, a long-haul fuel-efficient airliner built largely with composite materials, is key to Boeing's business strategy as it battles against European rival Airbus.