Bombardier Machinists Union Strike Continues

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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

There’s no change tonight in the negotiations between Bombardier Learjet and striking machinists.

You could say the only movement is from the machinists walking the picket line.

With the strike in its second week, one aviation analyst says then he can see the strike lasting into next year.

It was three weeks before machinists and the company settled their differences the only other time the union went out on strike here six years ago. Some now saying this could go longer.

Striking machinists, like Darren Silvernagel, say they’re prepared for this to be a long work stoppage.

"It'll probably go a month or more, and we're prepared for that. I hope it's shorter, but we're prepared for it to be longer."

"We're hearing anywhere from three weeks to three months,” says Learjet striking machinist Paul Love. “And we haven't heard anything from the company."

From the strike’s start, the company said it’s ready to return to negotiations. The union’s position is it, too, is ready to resume talks, but only if the company puts the HMO health plans back on the table.

"And that's what this is about is keeping our health care," says Silvernagel.

Aviation analyst and Foley Associates president Brian Foley questions the company’s motivation to end this quickly.

“The company may not be as motivated as it was back in 2006 to settle this is a timely manner," Foley says.

He says that’s because the light business jet market Learjet competes in hasn’t yet recovered. He also says Bombardier delivered two and a half more planes the first half strike year 2006 compared to the first half of this year. And that’s why the aviation analyst believes the company has more leverage now than six years ago.

"Nobody wins in a strike,” Silvernagel says. “I mean, the company's losing money. The employees out here are losing money."

But while these machinists are on strike, they’re not paid by Bombardier at a time aircraft deliveries are low, which is why some argue this could be a long strike,

"It's my belief that this will go on longer than the 2006 strike and could extend potentially into next year," Silvernagel says.

If that's the case, folks here will be getting out the cold weather gear.

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