The judge overseeing Hawker Beechcraft’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy case has approved the appointment of IAM Aerospace Coordinator Ron Eldridge to sit on the official committee of unsecured creditors. The role of the committee is to represent the interests of Hawker Beechcraft’s unsecured creditors like the IAM, and as a member of the committee, Eldridge will be a key part of the team defending the interests of all employees in the IAM bargaining unit at Hawker Beechcraft.
A long-time Wichita resident and past District 70 President, Eldridge is a former Boeing employee in Wichita and a veteran negotiator on behalf of IAM members at Hawker, Cessna, Boeing, Spirit and others. He currently serves as one of four Aerospace Coordinators in the recently formed Aerospace Territory under General Vice President Mark Blondin.
“Having a seat on the committee gives IAM members and all unsecured creditors a voice in the restructuring process they wouldn’t otherwise have,” said Eldridge, who will work alongside the IAM’s financial and legal staff assigned to the case. “Our goal will be to protect our members’ contracts and pensions and to advocate for a restructuring plan that gives Hawker Beechcraft the means to recover without causing undue and unnecessary harm to workers, retirees and their families.”
With $600 million in pension obligations, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. (PBGC) is the largest single creditor on the committee. In addition to the IAM and the PBGC, other creditors on the committee include Deutsche Bank National Trust Co., Wilmington Trust NA., Rockwell Collins Inc., Pratt & Whitney Canada Corp. and A.M. Castle & Co.
The PBGC said that it hopes to push Hawker to retain responsibility for its pension plans and noted that the company was premature with a suggestion that pension plans could be terminated as part of the restructuring process. “When Hawker Beechcraft entered bankruptcy the company put current and future retirees on edge by suggesting that the pension plans could be terminated,” said J. Jioni Palmer, PBGC’s Director of Communications. “Filing for bankruptcy doesn’t give companies a pass on their pension obligations.