Bombardier Learjet workers in Wichita represented by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW) went on strike early yesterday morning, following a vote on Saturday to reject a proposed labor agreement. Members of IAM Local 639 overwhelmingly rejected Bombardier’s proposal, with 79 percent opposed to the five-year offer. An equal number of union members authorized a strike, setting the stage for the walkout yesterday.
Bombardier has implemented a contingency plan at the Wichita site to minimize disruption to the Learjet production line and customers. According to the company, supervisors and non-union workers are keeping the Learjet production lines open, though to what degree was unknown at press time.
In a statement, Bombardier said it “put forward a fair and reasonable contract renewal offer to its unionized employees.” The proposed contract did not include raises during the first year and 1-percent raises annually during the remaining four years. While it would have retained pension plans, the proposal also raised health-insurance premiums for workers, which was a non-starter for many of the unionized workers.
Bombardier said its negotiations team is available to continue negotiations “and is hopeful that the union representing Bombardier Learjet employees will soon return to the bargaining table and, by working together, the two parties can resolve all outstanding issues.”