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Boeing shifting cost of health care onto technical workers' families
Source Ray Goforth, SPEEA
Date 08/04/23/17:09

Boeing shifting cost of health care onto technical workers' families

SEATTLE - CORPORATE LEADERS of The Boeing Company will shift up to $8.2
million of medical costs onto engineers and technical workers as a result of
upcoming changes to health care plans.

The cost-shifting maneuver is a result of Boeing's decision to change the
premium structure of two medical insurance plans offered to more than 20,000
Puget Sound area employees represented by the Society of Professional
Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA), IFPTE Local 2001.

"This change is part of a scheme to dismantle the benefits package earned by
SPEEA members," said Ray Goforth, SPEEA executive director. "Boeing
eliminated Early Retire Medical for new hires, is now shifting medical costs
onto employees and has announced its intention to go after pensions. The
company is doing this latest change because they want to sneak it through
without negotiating."

The brunt of the cost shift falls heavily on members with families covered
by the Select Network plan. Now provided to employees without a premium,
starting in June, employees with families will begin paying $138 per month.

To avoid premiums, employees in May can change to a less comprehensive
medical plan, the Traditional Medical Plan (TMP). Presently, employees with
TMP are charged premiums, but those premiums go away in June.

The actual extent of the cost shift depends on how many employees, if any,
change medical coverage during open enrollment from May 2 to 22.

"A few people will pay less in premiums but even they may see their
out-of-pocket costs increase," said Matt Kempf, SPEEA benefits director.
"Boeing only recently revealed the new plan rates and that's when we learned
the extent of their plan to shift costs onto employees."

Using the new 2008 rates, if the Select Network were the low cost plan and
every SPEEA member stayed in the same plan they were in last year, SPEEA
members would pay $6.1 million in premium contributions for the Traditional
Medical Plan over the next year. However, since Boeing is switching which
plan carries premiums, if every SPEEA member stayed in the same plan they
were in last year, union members will pay $14.3 million in premium
contributions over the next year, a total increase of $8.2 Million.

"If Boeing worked with the union instead of unilaterally implementing these
changes, we may have been able to agree on a formula that benefited all
SPEEA members," Kempf said.

SPEEA is filing to take Boeing to binding arbitration over the change.
However, the union cannot stop the change from taking place and is informing
members to consider changing medical plans.

In October, SPEEA begins main table negotiations with Boeing for 21,000
employees in Washington, Kansas, Oregon, Utah and California. Negotiations
begin in May for 3,000 represented employees at Spirit AeroSystems, Inc. in
Wichita, Kansas.

A local of the International Federation of Professional and Technical
Engineers (IFPTE), SPEEA represents more than 24,000 aerospace professionals
at Boeing, Spirit, Triumph Composite Systems, Inc., in Spokane, Wash., and
at BAE Systems, Inc., in Irving, Texas.

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