Boeing announced that the company has reached a tentative agreement with the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA), an 18,000-strong union. Most of SPEAA’s workforce is based in Oregon and Washington, United States, where most of the manufacturer’s plants are located.

While the executive board of the union has approved the deal, the members of the union are set to vote over the contract: the final day for the vote is set to March 9, 2020. If the members of SPEAA do not approve the agreement, Boeing will have a two-year buffer, as the current contract expires in 2022.

Major changes include fixed salary adjustment schedule from 2020 till 2026, a new paid leave policy, including SPEAA employees’ being covered by the Washington Paid Family and Medical Leave Act and a change in the healthcare plan, whereupon the employees’ contributions will increase depending on their salary, starting in 2021.

In addition, the target of the Employee Incentive Plan is raised from 3.85% to 5%.

If approved, the new deal would expire on October 6, 2026.

A win during a crisis

The extended contract would signal a positive change for Boeing, who is currently still battling the 737 MAX crisis, including the shutdown of its Renton, Washington, United States assembly line, where the grounded aircraft is built. Throughout the crisis, reports surfaced on management putting heavy pressure on employees to, reportedly, cut costs and make very tight deadlines.

With the new deal, as Greg Hyslop, Boeing chief engineer and senior vice president of Engineering, Test & Technology, claims the company “listened to our employees and addressed areas that are important to them.”

“These early discussions and ongoing dialogue will further enhance our efforts to focus on safely returning the 737 MAX to service and facilitating our engineering realignment and ongoing commitment to engineering excellence,” Hyslop added.

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While it is likely to take some years before things for Being 737 MAX would return to “business as usual” mode, a pathway on how this would happen is getting clearer. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has revealed the remaining process before the airplane gets recertified, while Boeing’s CFO shared details on how the manufacturer plans to wake up the currently grounded planes once it gets the green light to do so.