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Boeing to give California workers $47 million in back pay

PALMDALE, Calif. — Boeing Co. will pay $47 million to hundreds of current and former Southern California employees who are owed back pay and benefits, a union announced Friday.

An arbitrator ruled against the aerospace giant in January and laid down guidelines for the payments and interest, but it took months to cull through records and decide how much each worker was owed, said Bill Dugovich, a spokesman for the Seattle-based Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace.

A union grievance filed 13 years ago claimed Chicago-based Boeing violated contracts with engineers and technical workers in Palmdale and at Edwards Air Force Base northeast of Los Angeles.

The payments will be made in lump sums to 251 current and 233 former employees or their heirs.

The $47 million includes back pay, premium pay, interest, pension and 401(k) contributions along with interest.

The individual amounts range from a few dollars to around $400,000, with an average of nearly $100,000 per employee, Dugovich said.

"Boeing spent more than a decade and countless dollars trying to break its contracts with these employees," Rich Plunkett, SPEEA's director of strategic development, said in a statement. "It's disappointing it took so long, but the employees prevailed."

Company labor spokesman Tim Healy said, "Boeing was disappointed with the arbitration ruling but we are working with SPEEA to fulfill the arbitrator's make-whole ruling."

The deadline to distribute the payments is May 21. Healy said Boeing hopes to send them out in early May.

Union officials have scheduled meetings around the country this month to explain the award to recipients. Meetings already have been held in Washington state. California meetings are scheduled next week in Long Beach, Palmdale and at Edwards, with other meetings planned in St. Louis, Philadelphia, South Carolina and Arizona, Dugovich said.

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