SEATTLE (AP) - Boeing Co.'s engineers have accepted a new four-year contract while technical workers rejected their offer and voted to authorize a future strike.
The union representing both groups had recommended rejection of the contract because it would not provide pensions to new employees. They would have a 401(k) retirement plan instead.
The union called that unacceptable, but the Chicago-based aerospace company said the change was important to its future.
The vote tallied late Tuesday came as the company is trying to solve battery problems that have grounded its new 787s.
The engineers and technical workers in the union work on plans for new planes and solve problems that arise on the factory floor. The two units bargain at the same time, but their contracts are separate and independent agreements, the union noted.
While a strike by the technical workers is not imminent, the vote means the negotiating team can call one at any time, said Bill Dugovich, spokesman for the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace.
The engineers' vote means those 15,500 employees have a new contract in place, Dugovich said. Union negotiators hope to resume contract talks soon on behalf of the 7,400 technical workers, he said.
Boeing Commercial Airplanes President and CEO Ray Conner said in a statement that the company was pleased with the engineers' vote but "deeply disappointed" in the technical workers' rejection of what he called the company's "best and final" offer.
"The realities of the market require us to make changes so we can invest in new products and keep winning in this competitive environment," Conner said in his statement.
"That's why our proposal to move future hires to an enhanced 401(k)-style retirement plan is so important, as we have repeatedly emphasized over the course of these negotiations."
Boeing spokesman Doug Alder said the company is legally obligated to have discussions with SPEEA, but he noted Conner's statement about the importance of the 401(k) transition for future hires.
"That remains our position," Alder said.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said he's concerned about the split vote and spoke to union and Boeing representatives, urging them to resume negotiations.
"We cannot overstate the importance of the aerospace industry to the economy of Washington," Inslee said in a statement. "There are more than 131,000 employees in aerospace-related companies working across the state, the vast majority of which are directly reliant on the Boeing Company."
Union members rejected one contract offer in October. The previous contract expired in November.
SPEEA went on strike for 40 days in 2000.
"With this second rejection by technical workers of Boeing takeaways, 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," SPEEA Executive Director Ray Goforth said in a statement. "That way, we can avoid a strike and focus on fixing the problems of the 787 and restoring customer confidence in Boeing."
The latest labor unrest is happening as U.S. regulators launch an open-ended review of the 787's design and construction. Last month, a battery on a parked 787 caught fire in Boston. On Jan. 16, another 787 made an emergency landing in Japan after another battery problem.
All 50 787s that Boeing had delivered so far are grounded until the issue is resolved.
The union's nearly 23,000 employees are mostly in the Puget Sound region. Union leaders believe a strike would shut down Boeing production lines in Everett, Wash., where its big planes are made, as well as in Renton, Wash., where it cranks out the widely used 737.
The factory-floor assembly work is done by the members of the International Association of Machinists. The Machinists approved a new, four-year contract in December 2011, after a walkout in 2008 that contributed to a 3 1/2-year delay in delivering the first 787.
It was also a factor in Boeing opening a plant in South Carolina, where laws make it more difficult to unionize.
The National Weather Service in St. Louis has issued a winter storm warning for a mixture of freezing rain... sleet... and snow... which is in effect from 9 am Thursday to midnight Thursday. The winter storm watch is no longer in effect.
* Timing... precipitation will overspread the area during late Thursday morning starting around 9am and will become heavy at times the rest of the day and for the drive home from work and then taper off during the evening. The precipitation will tend to be more snow early in the event but is expected to become mixed with or transition to sleet and freezing rain during the day on Thursday before tapering off as freezing drizzle Thursday evening. Precipitation will tend to be more freezing rain south of interstate 70 and more snow north of interstate 70.
* Accumulations... snow and sleet accumulation of 1 to 6 inches, along with up to two tenths of an inch of ice.
* Winds... southeast 10 to 20 mph with gusts up to 25 mph.
* Impacts... heavy snow... sleet and ice accumulations will have significant impacts on travel. ice may cause damage to trees and power lines.
A winter storm warning means that a significant amount of snow, sleet and/or ice is expected or occurring. strong winds are also possible.
The chief wants to dismantle and reorganize some specialized units - moving members of the Rapid Deployment Unit into precincts, and putting gang unit detectives under a single command working from the downtown headquarters. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Chief Dotson will ask the Board of Police Commissioners Wednesday for permission to make those changes and to put SWAT, narcotics and drug task force officers under the same command as patrol officers.
Dotson told the paper that the moves will make the department more flexible.
He's also expected to ask for permission to accept donations to beef up hot-spot policing efforts.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that gas prices in the St. Louis area are 20 cents higher per gallon than they were this time last year. A gallon of regular unleaded is running more than $3.60 at most stations on the Missouri side of the Mississippi -- up about 50 cents in the last month. Prices are closer to $3.90 in the metro-east.
Several reasons are being given for the jump at the pump, including maintenance at several refineries and early switch over to summer blends. But the paper reports that commodities speculators may be the real force behind the increase, since they now dominate the oil market.
Ryan had asked the high court to reconsider his conviction based on a 2010 decision saying honest service fraud requires bribery and kickbacks. Ryan said the jury instructions at his trial were wrong, and that it was never proven that he took bribes.
Ryan was released from prison in recent weeks and is serving the rest of his sentence on home confinement.
Normandy Police, which patrols Cool Valley, report that the suspect ran out of the Schnucks Supermarket on South Florissant Tuesday evening. The man got into the passenger side of a late-model, red, Ford Expedition, which drove away.
Police aren't sure if the woman driving was a getaway driver or a hostage.
A surveillance image of the suspect is posted on our website, KTRS.com. Anyone with information is asked to call 911.
The measure endorsed Tuesday would give school districts the option to teach a National Rifle Association-sponsored gun safety program to students in first grade. SB75 would also allow schools to implement a training program for teachers and other personnel on responding to intruders.
The bill, sponsored by Republican Sen. Dan Brown, of Rolla, originally would have required schools to adopt both programs. But opposition from Democratic senators caused Brown to make the training and gun safety course optional.
The measure needs one more affirmative vote before moving to the House.
The House and Senate usually meet from Monday until mid-day Thursday each week. But with a mixture of ice and snow expected on Thursday, the Senate has decided to quit for the week around noon Wednesday -- early enough to give lawmakers time to get home before the weather hits.
The State House will also give members a chance to leave early, planning only a technical session on Thursday, in which no bills will be debated.
Outdoor adventure company Go Ape will manage the course which will include ziplines, bridges, cargo nets and and other tree-top activities.
St. Louis County Parks Director Tom Ott says construction should begin in the fall, once the leaves have fallen from the trees.
Governor Nixon announced eight acts have been announced so far. Just a few of the performers are Gary Allan, The Oak Ridge Boys, and Toby Keith. Fair officials say four more acts are also in the works. The fair runs from August 8 through August 18 in Sedalia.
For tickets to any of the state fair concerts and more information on the fair, visit MoStateFair.com.