Sat, Oct 06, 2012
Vote Being Taken Saturday On Contract, Work Stoppage
Leaders of the machinists union at Bombardier in Wichita have rejected the company's latest contract offer and are recommending that their members vote to decline management's contract offer and go on strike Monday. Voting will take place Saturday.
The final contract offer was made Wednesday at about midnight. It contained no raise in the first year and one percent per year in each of the subsequent four years. It would have kept pensions as they are, but would have required workers to pay a higher percentage of their health care coverage. Union spokesman Bob Wood called the health care boost "dramatic."
The Wichita Eagle reports that Wood said the health insurance issue was the main sticking point in the contract, though he said five years was too long before the next round of collective bargaining. "You're trying to lock us in," he said. He had recommended a three-year deal, saying the market was likely to turn around in that amount of time.
Bombardier said through a spokeswoman that the company was "disappointed" in the union's recommendation to turn down the offer and vote to strike. Peggy Gross said the company made what it considered a reasonable offer which tried to guarantee the long-term success of the company and its employees.
Acceptance of the contract would require a 50 percent vote, but a strike requires the approval of two-thirds of the membership. If the strike is approved, it's expected that work would stop as of Monday.
Bombardier says it has a contingency plan to continue producing airplanes even if the machinists walk off the job, but Gross said the company hopes it will not have to put that plan in place.
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