Bombardier Learjet Workers Reject Unfair Contract Offer

Health care costs topped the list yet again as the Machinists of Local Lodge 639 at Bombardier Learjet in Wichita, KS hit the picket lines after voting down the company’s unfair contract offer and voting by a 79 percent margin to strike. Workers in Wichita build the Learjet line of business jets, including the new Learjet Model 75.

The rejected proposal for the 825 Wichita workers was a five-year contract, with no raise in the first year and one percent raises each of the remaining four years. The company proposal took away two Health Maintenance Organization plans that covered 80 percent of the hourly workers, replacing it with a Point-of-Service plan and a Health Savings Account Plan.

The remaining plans provide far less coverage and increase costs, especially on prescription drugs. One of the striking workers, Dalan Thompson, has two children and a wife with medical conditions. Altogether, they have about 15 prescriptions for drugs that are essential for his family. The company’s proposed coverage “would bankrupt our family,” said Thompson.

“I just don’t think Bombardier gets it,” said District 70 Directing Business Representative Frank Molina, Jr. “They are a Canadian company, and with universal health care, no one in Canada goes bankrupt over medical costs. In the United States, lots of people go bankrupt because of health care, and many have insurance. Bombardier Learjet needs to understand how important this issue is to our members.”

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