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Boeing says it will deny pension benefits to married same-sex couples

Saturday, November 24, 2012
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The Boeing Company this week told union negotiators that it intends to deny pension survivor benefits to married same-sex couples, even though Washington State voters approved a marriage equality law earlier this month, according to a report in The Stranger.

Ray Goforth, Executive Director of the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA), IFPTE Local 2001, said his union has long sought equal pension benefits for same-sex domestic partners, but that Boeing’s refusal to offer the benefits “says to employees that they can be discriminated against based on who they are.”

“Their answer was that they had no intention of granting pension survivor benefits to legally married same-sex couples because they didn’t have to,” Goforth said.

Boeing representatives told him that pensions are governed by federal law, which doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage, thereby trumping the state law on the matter.

Surrendering to negative press reports, Boeing issued a statement that it plans to take “a closer look at how R-74 might impact company policies once it takes effect in December.”

R-74 (Referendum 74) was the November ballot initiative approved by voters that affirmed the state legislature’s passage of a marriage equality bill that was signed by Gov. Chris Gregoire earlier this year.

“Nothing is ever final in negotiations until they’re over,” a company spokesperson told The Stranger. “What we said today is that (these pension benefits) are not currently addressed in the contract.”

Boeing, one of the largest global aircraft manufacturers in the world, employs more than 82,000 workers in Washington state, and more than 174,000 worldwide.

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