Bob Wilkerson Treasurer
Jimmie Mathis Secretary
Joel Funfar N W Regional VP
Michael E. Hochberg N W Regional VP
Brent Mc Farlane N W Regional VP
Keith Covert M W Regional VP
SPEEA Council Officers
Shannon Moriarty Chair
Gordon Yip Treasurer
Theryl Johnson Secretary
Midwest Regional Council Officers
Mark Gayer Chair
Matthew Joyce Treasurer
Jo Miklos Secretary
Northwest Regional Council Officers
Dave Baine Chair
Carrie Rule Treasurer
Rebekah Hewitt Secretary
Bill Dugovich Communications Director
Lori Dupuis Graphic/Web Designer
Karen McLean Publications Editor
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Volume 58, Number 12, December 2014
WICHI TA HALL
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Phone: (425) 355-2883
New Midwest VP: Data
shows value of a union
WICHI TA – Keith Covert, newly seated
Midwest regional vice
president, sees the value
of unions fighting for
middle-class wages, benefits and overtime.
“Based on the data we
have, it can show a good
correlation – the higher
the union member density,
the better the wages,” he
said. “That’s really the middle class.”
He also sees firsthand what SPEEA and unions
have done for engineers. He recalls talking to
engineers who remember when they didn’t
get paid for overtime. The SPEEA Wichita
Engineering Unit (WEU) contract calls for
straight time plus $6.50 per hour.
No small thing is a contract that locks in health
insurance benefits. “I’ve also seen what’s happened with insurance related to contract negotiations,” he said.
Covert, who started his career at Boeing Wichita
nearly 30 years ago, joined SPEEA in 1999 during a contentious round of contract talks.
“We could see the possibility of problems and
wanted to be sure to become members and vote
on the contract,” he said.
Covert continued his membership throughout
the past 15 years, and subsequent contract talks.
Last month, he ran unopposed for the interim
Wichita opening on the Executive Board.
“I thought this would be a good opportunity to
test the water and get a good idea what to expect,”
he said, noting the remainder of the term he’s
filling expires in the coming months. Members
will vote in March for regional vice presidents.
The Executive Board directs SPEEA’s activities
through the executive director and monitors
expenses. He’ll also attend Council meetings.
It’s a bigger role for Covert, a lead engineer at
Spirit AeroSystems on the Airbus 350, who also
serves on the SPEEA-Spirit Joint Oversight
Committee (JOC). “I’ve been wanting to participate in a larger capacity,” he said.
Effort to add accountability
By Bill Dugovich
SPEEA Communications Director
Work to bring accountability to Washington’s aerospace tax prefer- ences is gaining momentum with
SPEEA, the Machinists and members of each
union visiting state lawmakers.
The effort’s goal is to have the legislature revisit the
tax preference bill and add language that makes it
tougher for aerospace companies, including The
Boeing Company, to receive tax breaks and then
hold down wages or move jobs out of state.
“We need to make sure the aerospace tax preference bill serves its intended purpose – to incen-tivize companies to grow Washington’s aerospace
industry with good aerospace jobs,” said Chelsea
Orvella, SPEEA legislative director. “Legislators
are listening. They really listen when the message
comes from our members and IAM members
who live in their districts.”
A little more than one year after state legislators approved $8.7 billion in tax breaks to keep
production of the 777X in Washington; The
Boeing Company employs 1,600 fewer workers in
Washington. The company is also implementing
its plan to move or layoff more than 6,000 engineers and technical workers. The new wing plant
being built in Everett will also use an increased
level of automation – eliminating still more jobs.
Other states required jobs to secure tax breaks
and Boeing agreed. South Carolina passed two
tax incentives and each was tied to job creation.
Missouri passed legislation granting Boeing tax
breaks if the company adds 2,000 high-wage
employees. Boeing is now set to receive Missouri tax
breaks after moving jobs there from Washington.
While other states require job creation for companies to receive tax breaks, the only requirement presently in the Washington bill is to keep
some 777X work in the state. The intent section
talks about growing the aerospace workforce, but
there is no requirement that companies create a
single job or pay good wages.
Originally approved by the legislature in 2003,
Washington’s aerospace tax preferences have been
revised and adjusted many times. SPEEA and the
IAM have consistently supported – and continue
to support – the preferences to help expand good-paying jobs and grow the state’s aerospace industry.
The effort to revisit tax preferences also includes a
call for better employment reporting by companies
to the state. In October, the Citizens Commission
for Performance Measurement of Tax Preferences
recommended Washington state “establish specific economic development metrics and reporting
mechanisms” for the aerospace tax breaks.
The Washington Legislative session begins