The strike would slow down fixing the 787, but it has wider implications: white collar, professional workers are rarely union members and are not known for striking so Boeing engineers set precedent for other professionals. Also, in an unusual move for any union, the SPEEA engineers are rejecting a new contract offer that would guarantee pension benefits for current employees at the expense of new hires (who would receive a 401k instead of a pension). SPEEA is thinking ahead since tiered contracts are known to corrode unity and ultimately weaken the union. Grounding of 787 has given Boeing engineers additional leverage to demand that Boeing extends their original contract.
The union believes a strike would shut down Boeing production lines in Everett, Wash., where its big planes are made, as well as Renton, Wash., where it cranks out more than one of its widely-used 737s every day. A strike would also shut down Boeing's new, non-union plant in North Charleston, S.C., which makes 787s in addition to those assembled in Everett.