Boeing: No Pension Survivor Benefits For Washington State Gay Couples?
does not intend to extend pension survivor benefits to the husbands and wives of married gay employees.
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." Goforth explains that his union has long sought equal pension benefits for same-sex domestic partners, to no avail. But since voters approved same sex marriage—establishing parity with married straight couples—Goforth re-framed the proposal to apply to his union's gay Boeing employees who wed. "Their answer was that they had no intention of granting pension survivor benefits to legally married same-sex couples because they didn't have to," Goforth explains. Boeing representatives told him that pensions are governed by federal law, which doesn't recognize same-sex marriage, thereby trumping the state law on the matter. "We were profoundly disappointed to see that they would use a loophole to engage in institutionalized discrimination," Goforth says.Stranger writer Dominic Holden adds that Boeing may be "performing some damage control" and they say that they will "take a closer look" at their policies after same-sex marriage goes into effect next month.