Learjet Machinists Accept Contract

By: Jason Tarr Email
By: Jason Tarr Email

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Saturday, November 10, 2012

Striking machinists at Bombardier Learjet voted Saturday to accept a contract agreement reached between Machinists Union negotiators and the company with the help of federal mediators.

Union members will return to work beginning Monday. They have until November 30 to go back to work.

"It's hard to ever say it was a successful strike but we have a lot of gains in the strike," said Frank Molina Jr., President and Business Representative of District 70. "We are happy with the place where we are at today especially from where we were in October."

Members overwhelmingly voted to accept the proposal, with 70 percent of those voting in favor of accepting the contract. The vote ends the month-long strike. Union workers walked off the job October 8.

"The contract we feel is a reasonable agreement, said Molina Jr. "Is it perfect? No, it's not perfect."

Even with the overwhelming majority vote, workers had mixed emotions about the new contract.

"I'm relieved, glad it's over," 15-year Bombardier worker Linda Wily said. "But I don't think any of us got everything we wanted."

Union leaders, who recommended approval of the offer, say even so, key components are better now than they were in the original offer. Most importantly to a lot of workers, the new contract lowers health insurance premiums for workers and increases the company's share of the costs.

Bombardier Learjet leaders are also satisfied with the situation. They have expressed confidence in the future.

"The agreement reflects our mutual committment to the long-term success of our site," said Ralph Acs, Vice Presiednt and General Manager of Bombardier Learjet. "We believe the strength and long-term potential of Learjet in Wichita resides with the products we manufacture and the experienced, dedicated and skilled workforce that contributes to the production and maintenance of world-class aircraft."

In the short term for the workers, it's all about getting their livelihood back at an important time.

"We are glad to see our folks get back to work right before the holidays," Molina said.

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