Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, believed that all human beings have an urge to self-destruct that competes with their instinct to survive and prosper.

The notion of an innate death wish has fallen out of favor, but every once in a while you encounter people whose behavior is so contrary to their own interests that it makes Freud's concept sound plausible.

So it is with the union representing engineers at Boeing's sprawling aircraft complex around Seattle.

Having failed to learn the lesson of past labor actions, it is pressing Boeing (IW 500/16) for concessions that will force Boeing to accelerate the movement of jobs away from the Puget Sound region.

That's what happened a few years back when machinists struck the company on the eve of the worst recession in many decades. By the time they returned to work, Boeing management was determined to follow the lead of rival Airbus in diversifying the locations where it assembled planes.

Boeing now builds its revolutionary 787 Dreamliner in both South Carolina and Washington, and the machinists realize they will have to be more flexible if they do not want to see a further hemorrhaging of touch-labor jobs out of the Seattle area.

The Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA) still doesn't get it though -- at least, not the union brass who are deadlocked with Boeing negotiators over pay, pensions and medical plans.

The company is offering engineers 4% annual increases over the next four years, on top of the previous 5% increases that raised their average wage to $109,000 per year. Technical workers would see their average wage of $81,000 grow 3% annually.

However, Boeing reps are adamant that new hires shift to the same kind of defined-contribution pension plan that everybody else in the private sector now has, and want to implement other changes necessary to keep the company competitive.