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Boeing, union suspend talks for rest of year on mediator request

Models of Boeing 747 and 777 passenger planes are displayed at the Boeing booth as part of the China International Aviation & Aerospace Exhi
Models of Boeing 747 and 777 passenger planes are displayed at the Boeing booth as part of the China International Aviation & Aerospace Exhi

NEW YORK (Reuters) - At the request of a federal mediator, Boeing Co and the union representing its 23,000 engineers suspended talks on new labor contracts for the rest of the year.

The move came Wednesday, a day after the mediator joined the negotiations in Seattle. The two sides have been bargaining since April to replace contracts that expired October 6. A 60-day extension ran out November 25, giving the union the ability to strike. Union leaders have said they would not call a strike until January at the earliest.

"At the request of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, negotiations between The Boeing Company and the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA), IFPTE Local 2001 are being suspended until after the first of the year," the FMCS said in a statement Wednesday. "Both sides agreed to this mediator request."

Talks between the two sides broke off briefly last week, and resumed Tuesday with the mediator present.

The talks broke off when Boeing said the sides were too far apart to continue talks without mediation. Boeing said it had upped its wage offer from a proposal it made in September.

The union considered that offer too low, and countered with a proposal that asked for larger raises than it sought in its previous proposal, and larger than those contained in its previous contract.

Boeing and the SPEEA were not immediately available for a comment.

(Reporting by Alwyn Scott; Editing by Nick Zieminski)

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