Executive Board Election 2018

Position Statement Questions from candidates

1. Why are you running for this position?
2. What can you contribute to the membership in this position?
3. What do you perceive to be SPEEA’s primary challenges and what are your solutions?
4. Problem solving, teamwork and conflict resolution skills are critical for the position.
5. How have you helped an organization achieve an important goal?

3. What do you perceive to be SPEEA’s primary challenges and what are your solutions?

Mehmet Ugur Koksu (for President)

The SPEEA needs support from the community to raise awareness for the Aerospace jobs, champion the SPEEA initiatives in the state legislature, and ensure that they continue working towards their vision. The size of our membership is shrinking and the Union is losing its bargaining power. SPEEA is weakening due to layoffs; work relocations and attritions. More and more outside contractors are taking over Boeing jobs. SPEEA is losing ground in all represented states and I believe Boeing Co. should not be the only one blamed. The cost of living expenses are increasing rapidly in Washington state and I will work harder to collaborate with local Governments bringing the Aerospace jobs back to Northwest/Midwest; where we call home and enjoy living.

Joel Funfar (for President)

Young member retention, Greying Population.

With our aging population, retirements have generated the need to fill those positions with new hires. We need to insist on expanding mentoring programs and work on 401K improvements for members without a pension and other benefits needed to retain these workers.

Membership involvement

When SPEEA members are involved, amazing results have been accomplished. When a large number of members desire to resolve an issue, our collective strength & determination have moved our employers in the right direction.

I hope to rekindle that spirit in us by making myself available to you, encouraging you to bring up issues, challenging you to get involved and acknowledging your support.

Employment Security

Outsourcing of design engineering has clearly demonstrated the need for in-house design engineers, as significant effort is focused on completing or correcting designs of engineers whose primary experience was not in aerospace. We also need to advocate for formal training plans to prepare our existing members with new job skills that will be needed in the coming decades.

Organizing / Outsourcing

Our employers continue outsourcing and moving our work to other locations. We need to:

  • Follow the work and organize those employees when possible so we are not forced to compete with other non-represented people.
  • Work with our employers to keep our work here and provide career growth & training so SPEEA members will have a future working at our current employers.
  • Organize new bargaining units at the companies we are employed by and assist other unions who are on an organizing drive.

We need to continue supporting legislation to limit outsourcing and encourage company investment in present employees and facilities, thus being more attractive to the bottom line.

Keith A. Covert (for President)
As we continue to grow, our primary challenge will be communication in an ever larger organization. SPEEA will need to increase visibility and communicate the value of union membership, while increasing union membership where feasible. The solutions may be hardware or software, or maybe the structure of SPEEA will need to be adjusted. We need people with a variety of ideas and experiences to come together to find unique solutions. These solutions will need to be cost effective and will need to have ease of use. We have to listen to our fellow members, not just wait for our chance to speak during a pause in the conversation.
Jimmie Mathis (for Treasurer)

Parental Leave

We have been negotiating for parental leave and resisting takeaways required by our employer. We deserve to work for a company who values our family life with more than a quid pro quo attitude. Valuable applicants elect to work for other companies who value family more than our employer. It is long past time for our employer to recognize employees as more than a renewable resource. I have pursued parental leave in the past and pledge to continue to do so.


Boeing and its subcontractors have clearly stated that globalization is part of its future and we have seen the effects of outsourcing our jobs to Europe, South America, Russia, Japan, and China. Some of these outsourcing has clearly affected the 787 and the future of The Boeing Company, Triumph, Spirit and BAE.

SPEEA must work with our employers to ensure that they understand the value our members provide and the hidden Jimmie Mathis (for Treasurer) costs of outsourcing. Our employers should make their decisions based on total cost, not initial cost.

Moving work from our existing locations to new or new Boeing locations is a lose-lose proposition for our companies to be in. Today’s corporations do not recognize that is required to survive and need constructive feedback.

Employment Security

Outsourcing design engineering has clearly demonstrated the need for our own design engineers as more of our design engineers have to complete or fix the designs of engineers whose primary design skills are automotive and not aerospace.

We need to continue transition plans to grow our members into new job skills that are needed in the next decade.


Boeing has continued to sell off a rare skills and facilities to BAE, GKN, Labinol, and Onex to reduce its costs. A lot of these higher costs are due to non-optimized processes, high overhead and poor planning. As Boeing has discovered and keeps forgetting, a process under Boeing control can be improved to reduce cost and meet delivery schedules. Once this is outsourced, Boeing has very little leverage to prevent parts shortages and inadequate designs.

We need to work with our employers to flatten the overhead, remove roadblocks, and make each employee more effective.

Michelle L. Cooper (for Treasurer)
I believe, SPEEA’s primary challenge is in standing firm in our principles and upholding our contracts while Boeing makes changes that, I believe, border on the edge of contract boundaries. SPEEA needs to be proactive in their intercourse with Boeing. I believe just because it’s not explicitly called out in a contract, does not mean it is should be disallowed from being made available to SPEEA members. SPEEA members need to be treated fairly, such as being paid Family Leave consistent with other Boeing employees.
Ryan Rule (for Secretary)

Lack of trust among members, officers, and staff – Some of this is due to the wide distribution of power and some is due to the private nature of individual situations, but a large part is likely related to the fragmented communication processes we have. When I began serving on the Executive Board, I found that some critical information was missing from our webpage, including council meeting votes and approved contractual deviations. I thought, “How can our officers execute decisions based on approved motions or properly enforce the contract if details are not readily available to them?” so I insisted that these items be posted to the website for anyone to review. Separately, I heard about people who felt like their issues were not being resolved. When I first became President, I asked everyone who had an unresolved issue to contact me directly (July 2014 Spotlite), and I continued to do so as problems rose to my attention. While I believe the situation improved for many, there is much room to grow.

Increasing communication of our daily successes and struggles could help, several mechanisms I support include:

  • Member web portal (approved)
  • SPEEA Podcast (approved)
  • Increasing involvement of communications personnel in more daily operations
  • Training the officers and staff to recognize the value of communicating their efforts with the membership

Openness and Honesty – It was not a surprise at all, and I’ve heard directly from dozens of members just how dissatisfied we are in the NW with the salary adjustment process. I also know that in 2016 negotiations, I was told that the Joint Compensation Committee would be able to review some of the salary process, it didn’t help foster a sense of openness when in late 2016, every member, including the President and the compensation committee members were was actually prohibited from inspecting the survey data, and not due to Boeing. As a result, in 2017 I made it clear, as the representative of the members, that at least I should be included in any discussions. As it turns out, the first meeting was scheduled without me, I found out about the second meeting purely by accident and attended, then the final meeting was changed to not include me, and virtually no information came back from that final discussion. In order to solve these problems with openness and honesty, we have to first be willing to shed light on them instead of covering them up. I have been working tirelessly to make SPEEA more open and more honest. There are a few individuals however who either don’t care or seem to be actively fighting this, but I won’t stop.

Informed decisions – As your President for the past four years, I have continually insisted that the officers have the necessary details to make a sufficiently informed decision prior to carrying out a vote, however on too many occasions getting necessary data has occurred during the meeting rather than before it. This has been a central item that I have asked of our SPEEA staff or anyone requesting the Executive Board take action; that is, to allow the elected leaders to make informed decisions. As Secretary I can continue to provide that function, perhaps even with more impact since the Secretary is generally more aware of the agenda than the President.

Stanley Huang (for Secretary)

Two words. Union Participation. Not enough members vote, not enough members even know how the current legislation or political climate impacts our union. Very few of us even know that we donate money to other unions or send members to conferences to learn how to be leaders. SPEEA has many challenges that we should focus on like passing budgets, voting for motions that fund blueberry farm workers where there are labor disputes, and the best method for SPEEA to disseminate information.

Today, the generation of union members is shifting towards millennials. It’s not new that the younger generation has been told countlessly that we are next for carrying the torch to lead the parties in government, to lead the movement of technology, and to lead the activism that unions have been fighting for since before Martin Luther King. Very few of us has learned about the positive nature’s of unionism and very few of us have associated positive beliefs with unionism. This is what I call our biggest challenge – bridging the generation gap.

A lot of us used to get our news on TV networks. Now, the internet is providing us information faster than we can process it and the worst is having to sift through fake news or just bad information. It seems that we just need to reach our union audience with something more simplistic like radio or podcasting. Although another media outlet might not be the answer, audio media is something that we can hear and digest. It’s easy to miss the monthly SPEEA Spotlite or Newsletter, but a lot of us could look forward hearing us talk.

Dan Nowlin (for Secretary)

I see the primary challenges to our union as unity, communication, and employment security.

In my discussion with members I hear that SPEEA and the Company are two different organizations and our members don’t really belong to either. We, as Boeing and Spirit employees, and SPEEA members share common values, interests, and goals with our leadership. SPEEA wants the company to be successful and we want our members to share in that success. We bring value to the products that we design, engineer, and build. I will continue to work with our members and work with our leaders to promote our mutual interests and values.

A second challenge is communication. We need to strengthen our communication. When we are all talking together about our common interests, participating in mutual dialogue and working together towards a meaningful conversation, where we respect each other, we will be able to move our common goals forward. When we all do better, we all do better.

Another challenge is employment security. In Washington, the 2013 legislature extended the tax incentives of 2003. It was the largest tax incentive ever proposed in US history. While the legislation included language intended to maintain and create good aerospace jobs, the company moved jobs from WA to other states. Many of our members were impacted by this. We had friends and neighbors asked to leave Washington for jobs in Missouri, South Carolina, Illinois, Oklahoma, or California. This was not what the legislature, nor the employees of Boeing understood at the time. It should be corrected. I am pushing to find a solution.