Same-sex marriage brings new twist in Boeing's talks with SPEEA



SEATTLE - Washington's new same-sex marriage law is suddenly a new twist in tense talks between Boeing and its engineering and technical union, the Society for Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace.


The issue is pension benefits.


After talks last week, the SPEEA website said Boeing may refuse to pay survivor pension benefits to married gay employees.


This is a new twist since the election, when Washington voters approved referendum 74, legalizing same-sex marriage.


The approval caused celebration on Seattle's Capitol Hill but poses new questions about everything from healthcare, to privacy, to pension benefits for surviving spouses.


Thousands of SPEEA members rejected Boeing's contract offer Oct. 1.

That pushed any settlement to well after Election Day, setting up an early test of the same-sex marriage law.    


SPEEA said that in negotiations last week, Boeing indicated it intends to refuse to grant pension survivor benefits to same-sex married couples.


Boeing's news release only said it is "taking a closer look" at how R-74 might affect the company.


There's a potential conflict between the new state law and federal law, which governs the pensions.


The next negotiating session is Tuesday.