Boeing employee Ken Aphibal has drafted a petition letter to Jim McNerney, president and CEO of the aerospace company, urging him to “honor the people of Washington State” by extending survivor pension benefits to married gay employees.
More than 500 people have signed Aphibal’s online petition. He hopes to get 50,000 signatures.
During contract talks last week, negotiators for Boeing told their counterparts with the engineers’ union that Boeing is unlikely to provide such benefits — and doesn’t have to — because pensions are regulated by the federal government, which does not recognize same-sex marriages.
Voters approved Referendum 74 earlier this month, legalizing gay marriage in the state. However, it is under the state’s domestic partnership law, enacted in 2007, that Washington employers must provide benefits to their employees in same-sex relationships. And while the state can’t require them to provide benefits in plans regulated by the feds, employers may choose to do so on their own, and many do.
Aphibal said he’s engaged, and the benefit, therefore, directly affects him: “It’s not about what the company has to do,” he said. “It’s is about doing the right thing.”