IAM Prepares for Historic Negotiations at Spirit

Front row, left to right: Local 839 President Kathy Peterson, 1st Shift In-plant Rep David Eagle, District 70 DBR Steve Rooney, BR Becky Ledbetter.  Middle row: 2nd shift In-plant Rep Howard Johnson, Headquarters GVP Rich Michalski, IP Tom Buffenbarger, Local 839 Communicator Dennis Williams.   Back Row: IAM General Counsel Christopher Corson, Grand Lodge Representative Don Barker, Aerospace Coordinator Ron Eldridge, District 70 BR Mike Burleigh.

The bargaining committee for members of Local 839 at Spirit AeroSystems in Wichita, KS, recently completed an intense week of negotiations preparation at the Winpisinger Center, where they are readying for a bargaining session that could change the face of the aerospace industry.

The future of the U.S. aviation industry was a frequent topic of discussion. The workers in Wichita and Spirit’s leadership share a mutual interest in outlasting the current recession and ensuring Wichita remains the Air Capitol of the nation for years to come.

“Aerospace is the last great American industry,” said International President Tom Buffenbarger, who met with the committee. “It is vibrant, innovative and highly productive. We remain the unquestioned world leaders. What we do here during the next six months will chart the course for this industry, our members and our nation for years to come.”

During the week-long training, the committee also met with Headquarters GVP Rich Michalski, Spirit AeroSystems President and CEO Jeff Turner and Spirit AeroSystems Vice President of Labor Relations Sam Marnick.

Both sides are exploring a completely new collective bargaining model that would protect the interests of IAM members while bringing long-term stability to employment and production. If successful, it will mean no more business as usual, for the union or the company.

“It is time to move beyond the old ways of bargaining that have been used since the 1930s,” said Buffenbarger. “We must be innovative in collective bargaining. We must find ways to move forward where both the company and the workers benefit together, neither one profiting at the expense of the other in adversarial roles. We owe it to our community, our families and this nation to find that new way.”

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