SPEEA Pushes Boeing to Grant Pension Survivor Benefits to Same-Sex Married Members

  SPEEA Pushes Boeing to Grant Pension Survivor Benefits to Same-Sex Married

Business Wire

SEATTLE -- January 25, 2013

When new contracts are negotiated and ratified by engineers and technical
workers at The Boeing Company, same-sex married members in the Professional
and Technical bargaining units will have the security of knowing pension
benefits can be passed on to their spouse, thanks to the diligent work of
members, elected officials, equality organizations and negotiators of the
Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA), IFPTE
Local 2001.

While still locked in contract negotiations for 23,000 engineers and technical
workers, The Boeing Company and SPEEA have tentatively agreed on contract
language that grants same-sex couples the same pension survivor benefits that
have been available to heterosexual married couples. The agreement comes after
SPEEA Benefits Director Matt Kempf recognized, and made an issue of, a
loophole in contract language that allowed Boeing to deny pension survivor
benefits to same-sex couples.

“I started looking at this several years ago when a dying, gay member, came in
to ask about passing on his earned pension benefit to his partner of 30
years,” Kempf said. “We couldn’t help them and it just seemed so very wrong.”

When Washington state voters approved marriage equality in November, SPEEA
negotiators again brought up the issue of same-sex survivor pension benefits
during contract talks with Boeing. Hearing the company was still denying
same-sex couples this earned benefit, SPEEA Diversity Committee member Ken
Aphibal started a petition on the progressive website Change.org. The petition
flooded Boeing CEO Jim McNerney with more than 79,000 emails and drew support
from other unions, community groups and members of the Washington state
Congressional leaders.

“I’ve always advocated for these benefits and this win feels really good,”
said Aphibal, who is engaged to marry his partner Bennett. “I have years
before retiring, but for anyone close, this will change their life. They will
be able to look at their loved one and know they will be taken care of. Boeing
is now a leader for granting these benefits to gay and lesbian couples. All
the hard work on this issue by my union shows how important organized labor is
today and another reason why I work for Boeing. ”

With Boeing agreeing to grant same-sex pension survivor benefits to SPEEA-
represented engineers and technical workers, Aphibal said he is hopeful the
company will now extend the same benefit to its other 150,000 employees.

A local of the International Federation of Professional and Technical
Engineers (IFPTE), SPEEA represents 26,300 aerospace professionals at Boeing,
Spirit AeroSystems in Wichita, Kansas, and Triumph Composite Systems, Inc. in
Spokane, Wash.


                            Congressman Adam Smith

                            Congressman Norm Dicks

                          Congressman Jim McDermott

                         Congresswoman Susan DelBene

           Alaska Airlines – Association of Flight Attendants, CWA

                       United Food & Commercial Workers

                       New York Working Families Party

                           Equal Rights Washington

                                LGBTQ Allyship


Bill Dugovich, communications director, 206-674-7368 or 206-683-9857
Ray Goforth, executive director, 206-433-0991
Matt Kempf, benefits director, 206-433-0991
Ken Aphibal, 425-478-0788
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