Tuesday, October 2, 2012
It was a show of strength in Old Town today from Bombardier Learjet machinists as contract talks with the company enter their final hours.
Negotiations were going on across the street at the Courtyard by Marriot. Union members were out to say loudly that they don’t like the company’s current offer. The contract being negotiated covers about 825 hourly employees at the west Wichita aircraft plant.
"What concerns us the most is an eight year contract, for one," says “Mike,” a Bombardier employee.
Employee Rick Wyly says, "They want to take away our defined pension plan. They don't want to give us any pay raises. They want a long term contract."
Bombardier, like other planemakers, is going through a challenging market. There have been production rate cuts and the Lear 60 line is paused right now – also a concern to employees who fear more layoffs.
"We had made good strides in the 'non-ecs,' and we were kind of hoping in the economics it would go equally as fair,” says Machinists District President Frank Molina, Jr. “But we have had a lot of takeaways in the economic side, which is something we can't live with realistically."
Bombardier spokeswoman Peggy Gross says the company is "committed to the negotiation process and is looking forward to finding a resolution that's equitable to both parties as well as continuing our commitment to the long term success of our site."
The contract vote is scheduled for Saturday at the Cotillion Ballroom.