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updated: 3/19/2013 7:56 AM

Boeing avoids strike threat as technical workers accept contract

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Bloomberg News

Boeing Co. can expect to avoid strikes through 2016 and benefit from lower pension costs after technical workers agreed to a new contract that was unchanged from one they rejected last month.

The vote was 4,244 to 654, according to the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace. The deal provides for raises of as much as 5 percent a year over a four- year contract. New workers will be switched to a 401(k)-style retirement plan from a pension plan.

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The group of about 7,400 technical workers, mainly at Boeing's Seattle-area manufacturing and development hub, turned down the same offer by 53 percent of the votes on Feb. 19, authorizing their union to call a strike at any time. The professional engineers, another group of workers represented by the same union, accepted a similar offer that day, weakening the technical workers' position.

Boeing's machinists, who had staged seven walkouts since their union's 1935 creation, agreed in December 2011 to extend their contract through 2016 in a surprise deal struck nine months before it was set to expire. The only major engineers' strike was in 2000, when they stopped work for 40 days.

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