After Boeing execs and union negotiators clashed last week, an employee launched petition asking the company to grant equal pension survivor benefits to married gay employees.
Kenneth Aphibal is one of the company's 23,000 engineers and technical workers, who make up the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA). His petition says, "Even though Boeing is not required to extend survivor benefits to employees of same-sex married couples because pensions are governed by federal law, which currently does not recognize same-sex marriage, I hope you will use this opportunity to do the right thing and stand strongly for equality."
Of course, federal law doesn't prevent Boeing from granting those benefits.
The petition has gained over 500 signatures since it was launched yesterday—but they're aiming for 50,000 signatures to show mass public support. If you think that Boeing—which holds a huge workforce in Washington, where gay marriage was legalized this month—should grant equal benefits to gay couples here, then...
Since we broke the news last week, SPEEA president Ray Goforth, says it "started a firestorm" of controversy and media interest. The story went viral, grabbing headlines on scores of blogs and sites including Gawker, Huffington Post, the Advocate, and in local media, including the Seattle Times. Boeing executives and union negotiators have sat down twice since their meeting last week, Goforth says, but the company's position hasn't changed. Goforth intends to press the issue in talks next week.
"It's a core human rights issue," says Goforth. "So I don't see that SPEEA would ever give up on this issue, absent some very compelling explanation from the employer. The explanation that they gave us was they they didn't want to do it because didn't have to—and that wasn't a compelling reason. That was an excuse for discrimination."