Sick leave hours restored for 284 employees
SPEEA and The Boeing Company were well into contract negotiations on Sept. 1, 2012 when something silently changed
on the side. Everyone whose work location was
Seattle was removed from the normal sick leave
plan and added to a new and different plan. It
took until Sept. 12 before the impacted workers
received an indication that something changed.
They received two pay stubs instead of one, and
their tax withholding and direct deposit amounts
were calculated incorrectly. Boeing provided no
communication to the employees, and nothing
was said about a sick leave change during our
By June of 2013, negotiations had concluded, and it was brought to my attention that
some people were receiving strange notices in
TotalAccess regarding a “72-hour” rule related
to their sick leave. After a few people requested a
copy of their sick leave ledger, it was clear something strange was happening. SPEEA requested
a meeting with Boeing to discuss the change.
Boeing met with us in early August 2013 and
explained they were trying to comply with the
new Seattle Paid Sick and Safe Time Ordinance.
Boeing had already complied with nearly every
aspect of the ordinance and in short time, the
few remaining items were addressed. In that same
meeting, we learned that in choosing how to
implement the new rules, Boeing created a situation where many individuals in Seattle would
now lose more sick leave on their anniversary
than they should.
To understand the simplest problem with how
they implemented the change, consider that a
typical person earns two weeks of sick leave during the year. When a person uses two weeks of
sick leave prior to their anniversary, they should
not lose any sick leave on their anniversary,
regardless of when, during the year, their sick
leave was used. This is how it has worked since
the sick leave change (elimination of the FSP)
was negotiated in the 2005-2008 Puget Sound
With the new change (which was not negotiated), depending on where the person worked
and when, they could earn two weeks, use two
weeks and then lose one week on their anniversary, even if it occurred in that order. For many
situations, people would have a few hours taken
on their anniversary, some of which are expected
and some solely because of the system change.
(If you have questions about how basic sick leave
works, contact your Council Representative.)
When this deficiency was pointed out, Boeing
insisted it was not a problem. Just one week later,
I actually had four more hours taken from my
own sick leave bank than I should have. It took
months, but I was finally given my four hours
back. In restoring the hours, Boeing claimed I
was the only person who had this problem. I
found that highly unlikely so I asked for the actual usage data, which I finally received in March of
2014. Reviewing the data, I quickly found several
examples of other SPEEA-represented employees
who also lost too much sick leave. I asked Boeing
simply: “What about these employees?” In May
of 2014, seven more people were given their sick
leave back, and a correction was made to the
I continued to find more individual examples of
improper sick leave deductions. By June 2014,
56 people had been given their sick leave back
and Boeing claimed they were done, and there
was a final correction planned for the system.
But each time the company came back, I found
more examples of individuals who had too much
sick leave taken from them. In October of 2014,
another 22 people were given their sick leave back.
After 14 months, Boeing had finally fixed three of
the four problems identified in that first meeting.
To address the fourth problem, Boeing implemented a review which involved two payroll
auditors each Friday manually examining the
entire year of activity for every individual who
was close to their anniversary. I still was not
convinced the company had addressed everyone. After one more manual review, another
198 people were found who had lost more sick
leave hours than they should have. This last
batch was only finished being corrected Oct.
16, 2015, more than three years from when the
implementation change occurred and more than
two years from when it was identified.
The 284 of us impacted had a total of more
than 1,850 hours of sick leave restored. Some
individuals had 32 hours or more returned to
them. Without SPEEA, each of those 284 people
would be left to find and pursue a correction of
this sick leave shortage on their own.
If you work within the city of Seattle, take a
moment to check your last two or three pay
stubs. Many of you should have had a silent
sick leave correction.
It is safe to assume that if 12% of the SPEEA
population in Seattle had this problem, a sub-
stantial number of non-union employees are
missing sick leave as well. But, they have no
one but themselves to check for problems and
certainly no union with a good avenue to pursue
a correction on their behalf. I hope that none of
them ever need their lost sick leave.
Looking forward, there is little assurance the
manual review process will be consistent in the
future. It appears Boeing recognizes this, and
that is partially why the company started front-loading sick leave hours for non-union and management on July 1, 2015. Now, these people will
earn two weeks of sick leave and if they use two
weeks, they can be certain they will not have
any sick leave taken away from them on their
Unfortunately, Boeing refused to apply that
change to SPEEA-represented employees.
Instead, they are committed to wasting the time
of payroll auditors who are stuck performing
a manual review process for our people, while
forcing those of us who aren’t sure about our
situation to contact TotalAccess and request an
explanation of our sick leave ledger.
My real concern is the upcoming negotiations.
It appears Boeing would rather waste talents and
resources and have individuals scrutinizing their
accounts than just fix the problem. The fix costs
the company nothing - everyone still gets two
weeks of sick leave each year. If corporate management can be irrational about this decision,
I don't know how they can be rational when it
comes to our upcoming contract negotiations.
Local 2001, AFL-CIO, CLC
OF PROFESSIONAL AND
By Ryan Rule, SPEEA President
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