Cessna workers agree to new deal

 - November 2, 2007, 11:49 AM

Cessna reached a new labor agreement with the union representing nearly 6,000 of its workers. The Textron subsidiary concluded the three-year contract settlement with the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers after a lengthy and often contentious bargaining process. “Cessna is the leader in the aviation industry and we certainly feel this was an industry-leading contract,” said Bob Wood, a union spokesman.

Health care was a primary sticking point in the most recent negotiations, just as it was in the last round in 2004. This time, Cessna proposed to replace a choice of three worker health plans with a single offering that carried high deductibles. That proposal is not included in the final contract, which was ratified by 63 percent of the rank and file and calls for wage hikes of 5 percent over the first year, and 4 percent for each of the remaining two years. The deal also calls for a $3,000 lump-sum bonus and an increase in the pension from $49 per month per year of service to $55.

This new agreement heads off a strike threatened in September, and company officials are breathing a sigh of relief, given the Wichita-based airframer’s $11 billion backlog. “With this agreement, we can continue to focus attention on designing, producing and supporting Cessna aircraft,” said a company spokesman.