Spirit Machinists Ratify Contract By Default

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Friday, June 25, 2010
Update, 9:30 p.m.

Voting members of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers voted Friday to ratify a 10-year contract offer from Spirit Aerospace by default, as the strike vote fell short of needed numbers.

Machinists Union leaders announced just before 8 p.m. Friday that 57% of the voting members rejected the contract. However, only 58% voted to strike. But the strike required 66% approval, so the contract was accepted automatically.

The contract replaces one that expired at midnight Friday.

The Machinist represent nearly 6,000 workers at at Wichita's biggest private employer. Spirit was formed in 2005 after Boeing spun off its commercial aircraft operations in Wichita and Oklahoma.

Union leaders had endorsed Spirit's offer, which includes cost-of-living adjustments, a 1% wage increase in 4 of the 10 years, an early retirement option and increases in pensions.

Spirit said the unusual 10-year contract showed its commitment to Wichita.

The following statement was released from Spirit after ratification of the contract.

"We know this new model of working together is a big change for everyone. This is the start of a long journey. Now is the time for company, union, and employees - together - to make this collaborative relationship a reality. This is so critical for our future, and for Wichita aerospace. The future is too important not to get this right."

Friday, June 25, 2010
Update, 7 p.m.

The voting ended at 5 p.m. Friday. Ballots arrived from Century II and counting is underway. Now the wait is on to see how many others voted and whether a strike is approved. To pass the contract requires 50% plus 1 vote, but the strike threshold is higher. Two-thirds of those voting must vote to strike for the union to walk out. If that two-thirds is not reached, the contract is accepted by default.

Spirit and the machinist union negotiators say the contract provides job security and many improvements in compensation, pension and containing health care costs among other things. But voting members willing to talk say the offer does not go far enough.

"It's a lose lose for us, it's a win win for them."

The ballot boxes arrived at the International Association of Machinists office in south Wichita just before 6 p.m.. The ballots were unloaded onto tables where the thousands of ballots are being counted. If two thirds approve the strike they will be going out at midnight tonight.

We will bring you the results as soon as we get them on our web channel and at KAKE News at 10.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Spirit Aeorosystems made the offer to the International Association of Machinists employees Wednesday afternoon. Spirit says the offer represents their promise to stay in Wichita, and union officials say the language in the agreement may be a model for the future for aircraft manufacturing negotiations.

IAM members will vote on the offer which includes cost-of-living adjustments, a 1% wage increase in 4 of the 10 years covered by the contract, increases in pensions and an early retirement option on Friday at Century II from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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