Workers of Local Lodge 639 at Bombardier Learjet in Wichita, KS, ratified a three-year agreement by a 95 percent vote.
The agreement calls for yearly raises and a 14 percent immediate increase in the pension plan. The company and the Union entered into a partnership agreement to explore ways to hold the line on health care, leaving the cost of one plan unchanged and the other with modest increases.
IAM negotiators also made numerous improvements in contract language, bucking a current trend of companies demanding concessions and cuts from employees. IAM leaders say the Learjet contract shows there are ways to weather the economic storm without using tough times to attack worker pay and benefits.
“There were no takeaways in this contract,” said District Lodge 70 Directing Business Representative Steve Rooney. “We know this is a tough time for the business jet industry, and what we negotiated is a reasonable and responsible answer to the challenges facing the aviation industry today. It recognizes the needs of both the employees and the industry, and the Machinists Union is here to partner with the employers to survive the downturn.”
“I would like to commend the negotiation teams for both the Union and Bombardier for the tone of our talks these last few weeks,” said Aerospace Coordinator Ron Eldridge. “The company worked collaboratively with us, instead of confrontationally. I hope this sets the standard in Wichita moving forward.”
“This shows that collective bargaining works in the worst of times, as well as the best of times,” said Southern Territory General Vice President Bob Martinez. “This agreement sets a broad standard for a recovery that strengthens both the company and community.”
“This round of negotiations with Learjet demonstrates that the IAM fields the absolute best bargainers in North America,” said International President Tom Buffenbarger. “I’m very proud of our Negotiating Committee. Great bargainers can bring positive results even from a tough situation. As we move forward during this recession, skilled bargaining and is key to protecting our jobs and earning power.”