Local Pastor Urges Support for Wichita Strikers

In an eloquent message posted on the Local 639 website, the Executive Director of Interfaith Worker Justice Kansas, Rev. David Hansen, urged the Wichita faith community to support IAM members at Bombardier Learjet in their the struggle to preserve affordable health care.

“Now is the time to speak out and speak up for a health care system that reflects the values of human dignity, shared responsibility, compassion, stewardship of resources and concern for our neighbors,” said Hansen. “I ask people of all faiths to hold the workers, the managers and their families in prayers today and throughout the coming days.”

IAM members of Local 639 voted by 79 percent to reject Bombardier’s final offer, which would eliminate two HMO health care plans and sharply increase workers’ out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs. The company’s proposed five-year contract contained no raises in the first year of the contract and increases of only one percent for each of the next four years.

While Bombardier Learjet Inc. claims its health-care package is “in line” with the plant’s salaried employees and “a fair proposal for the long-term success of the company and for our employees,” Rev. Hansen suggests a different approach: “The market is not the measure of our well-being,” says Hansen. “Our well-being is the measure of the market.”