Bombardier Learjet Responds To Strike Recommendation

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UPDATE: Friday, October 5, 2012

Friday morning, Bombardier Learjet released a statement in response to the Machinists union negotiators' recommendation that IAM members reject their contract offer and vote to strike.

Below is the statement in its entirety:

Bombardier Learjet is disappointed in the union negotiating committee's recommendation. The company put forward a fair and reasonable proposal for the employees while ensuring the long-term potential and success of Learjet.

We are hoping that the employees will accept our contract proposal. 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 of world-class aircraft.

Bombardier made their best and final offer early Thursday. Union negotiators responded by saying contract length, small wage increases and health care cost increases were unacceptable.

The contract vote is set for Saturday at the Cotillion.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Local Machinists Union negotiators are urging members to turn down a Bombardier contract offer and strike.

Negotiators are unhappy with contract details after getting the company's last, best and final offer early Thursday morning.

Union members say contract length, small wage increases and health care cost increases are among the items machinists find hard to swallow.

Bombardier Learjet employees leaving work Thursday had different ways of expressing their feelings on the contract offer.

"I don't think it's any good," said one employee. "And what upsets me is they say, 'You first,' but now they're wanting to put the employee last."

Others say now they have to study the offer before Saturday's vote.

"I haven't read it through that much," said another Bombardier machinist. "I haven't looked at it that close, but the negotiators are saying don't buy it. So we'll have to read it and see what it does."

At a union rally Tuesday across from the hotel where negotiations were going on in Old Town, several members complained of the contract length of eight years then being offered. That has now been shortened to five years, but some say it is still too long to be locked into an agreement in the current economic environment.

The offer calls for no pay raise the first year and one percent pay raises in each of the last four contract years.

"I know business isn't great right now," said union spokesman Bob Wood. "But to try and lock somebody in, we know the economy is going to turn around. We know the industry is going to turn around. And then to lock people in so they have to do more with less is just wrong."

Wood said the pension remains essentially the same with a small increase, but, he said, members will pay more for prescriptions under the offer.

Bombardier machinists went on strike for 22 days six years ago. Some say they are ready to do it again.

The union votes up or down on the contract and whether to strike this Saturday. Voting will take place from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Cotillion.

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