Closer look at the WEU Negotiation Team
WICHITA - The SPEEA team rep- resenting the Wichita Engineering Unit (WEU) in contract negotiations
share in common the drive to see the process
The process includes special training with staff
and legal counsel, thorough review of the current
contract and review of contract issues, as well as
analyzing survey data and comments from the
bargaining unit. More than 70% of the bargaining unit responded to a SPEEA survey in March.
• Composite material and process engineer
• Three years at Spirit AeroSystems
• SPEEA Midwest Area Rep
Elisa Acosta’s mother was
a Boeing vice president
involved in SPEEA contract
negotiations in Puget Sound.
Those memories made her
interested in running for
the WEU Negotiation Team
to see the other side of the
“I hope I can learn more
about the company-SPEEA relationship - just
how they interact is interesting to me,” she said.
She also wanted to represent another side of the
WEU bargaining unit as a younger engineer. “I
hope I can provide a different perspective on the
contract,” she said. “I want to make sure the
non-retirement engineers have their voice heard
on contract issues they deem more important
right now,” such as health care benefits.
• 737 MAX lead engineer
• 33 years (Boeing/Spirit AeroSystems)
• SPEEA Midwest regional vice president
Data, debate, decision
After serving nearly four
years on the SPEEA
Executive Board as vice
president, Keith Covert sees
similarities with the WEU
Negotiation Team process.
“I have not seen anything
that is different from the
way SPEEA approaches any
issue. There is gathering
data, then debate and finally approving an action.”
He stepped up for the role, in addition to his
other SPEEA work, because he wanted the experience. His work experience with reviewing cost
data and dealing with people are added strengths.
He was also curious. “I had heard several intrigu-
ing stories about the process and dynamics that
occur during negotiations.”
• Senior integration lead/Supply Chain
Management (SCM) technical support
• 27 years (Boeing/Spirit AeroSystems)
• SPEEA Midwest Council chair
Strength in numbers
Matthew Joyce brings
experience to the table as a
past member of three other
WEU negotiation teams
(since 2008). He also brings
a strong desire to recruit as
many new SPEEA members
as possible to build the unit’s
For the last contract, he
brought in more than 140 new members. In
anticipation of this year’s contract talks, he started
recruiting members last year. The current membership has nearly doubled to about 60%. Only
dues-paying members vote.
He’s also been on the other side of negotiations
as a school board member in Derby, Kansas,
since 2009. The board annually negotiates con-
tracts. From previous contract negotiations, he’s
learned: “Preparation is everything and always
have a contingence plan.”
• Structures design engineering lead
• 32 years (Boeing/Spirit AeroSystems)
• Former Council Rep/Council officer
‘Cool story to tell’
John Poettker’s many
roles in SPEEA, including
Council Rep and Governing
Documents, and his knowledge of the workplace are
reasons why he wanted to
“I believe my almost 32
years of experience can
provide a significant aid in
developing a successful contract offer the members can feel proud to approve,” he said.
He’s also hoping for a success to be proud to tell
his future grandchildren. “To say I successfully
helped negotiate a multi-year union contract
affecting 1,000 Wichita, Kansas, engineers with
a Fortune 500 company ($7 billion in annual
sales) would be a pretty cool story to tell.”
• Systems engineer - Spirit Defense Product
Lifecycle Management (PLM) team
• 12 years (Boeing Renton/Spirit
Eric Stewart applied for the
WEU Negotiation Team to
make the contract better.
He has experience with a
benefits issue, and he knows
others who had problems
with the Performance
“The best place to advocate
for these and other changes
are on the negotiation team,” he said.
Stewart knows the struggle facing the team to
balance competing priorities, such as retirement
benefits and raise pools. But he sees another side.
“There is also a lot of common ground among
the various groups.”
He would like to “help close any identified gaps/
loopholes and ensure that as many membership
priorities as possible are met in the new contract.”
WICHITA - The Wichita Engineering Unit (WEU) contract survey drew from 71% of the bargaining unit.
The survey asked for participants’ views of
upcoming negotiations, including priorities,
demographic data and comments.
• About 25% have been at Spirit 5 to 10
years. More than 20% who responded
have two to five years with the company.
• More than half who responded said they
would retire in 20 or more years.
• All job levels were represented with the
most responses indicating level 3.
• Job advancement
• Layoffs and outsourcing
• Salary adjustment funds
“The input is already making a difference,” said
BJ Moore, SPEEA Midwest director.
The team meets May 2 with Spirit AeroSystems
to formally kick off contract negotiations and
begin meeting in subcommittees. Main Table
talks are likely to start later in the summer.
SPEEA is on