Union Members Studying Tentative Agreement

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Friday, November 9, 2012

The tentative agreement between Bombardier Learjet and its striking Machinists Union will be up for a union vote Saturday.

Union members are studying and there will be no time for indecision. A vote is scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday.

"I'm just wishing everybody well and hope this goes good," said a striking machinist, who didn't want KAKE News to use her name.

Other machinists like the 19-year Learjet employee are encouraged a new offer is being made. For now, union members have only heard bits and pieces about the offer. They hope it's better than the contract offer overwhelmingly rejected in early October.

"The improvements have to be made that it's worth passing," the striking employee said. "And I know a lot of them will look at it and say, 'What's in it for me?' But the long factor is we all know that health insurance is a tough thing and that's what we're out here fighting for."

She and other strikers have said all along it's not about raises, pension and other benefits, which they acknowledge are important, but this strike is over health care and its costs. The negotiating team said this contract offer makes improvements in health care.

"The big thing was health care in here and, of course, you don't always get everything, but we were able to make some real improvements in the health care," union spokesman Bob Wood said.

Wood said just about everything is an improvement in this offer, compared to the one rejected by union members last month. It is a five-year deal; longer than past contracts, but not as long as some industry contracts in recent years.

"There is an early retirement offer in there," Wood said. "And also the signing bonus was increased from $1,500 the first year to $2,500."

What striking machinists will be looking at the most is health care.

Union members will vote from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Machinists Union's district headquarters building, near I-235 and South Meridian. The vote requires a simple majority for approval.

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