In a discriminatory move that seems to be more about money than a position on gay marriage, Boeing is reportedly planning to refuse equal pension survivor benefits to same-sex couples. In Washington State, which just legalized same-sex marriage, The Boeing Company is “one of the state’s most high-profile corporations.” (Huffington Post) However, reports from a union source say that representatives of Boeing are claiming that because pensions are a federal matter, and the federal government still doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage, they don’t have to pay it.
The Stranger reports that,
Today the Boeing Company told union negotiators that it intends to deny pension survivor benefits to same-sex married couples, even though Washington State voters decisively approved a marriage equality law earlier this month.
Representing 23,000 Boeing engineers and technical workers, Ray Goforth is executive director of the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA), IFPTE Local 2001. He was sitting at the negotiation table today—as part of ongoing talks over retirement benefits—and says the company’s position “says to employees that they can be discriminated against based on who they are.”
They also report Goforth as saying, “We were profoundly disappointed to see that they would use a loophole to engage in institutionalized discrimination.”
Boeing, on the other hand, disagrees with the statement that they ever said that same-sex pension benefits were off the table, saying, in fact, that assertions of that are “blatantly false and, quite frankly, offensive.” Doug Alder, the spokesman for Boeing, who said the earlier statement, was reportedly evasive when directly asked if they had refused those benefits today:
Asked directly, however, if Boeing did in fact refuse these benefits at the negotiating table today, Alder evaded the question. “Nothing is ever final in negotiations until they’re over,” Alder told me. “What we said today is that [these pension benefits] are not currently addressed in the contract.”
In spite of this denial, union representatives are holding firm that Boeing completely and unequivocally refused to consider benefits for same-sex couples.