Winning in Wichita

Wichita workers are thrilled as Spirit AeroSystems announced its plan to add more than 1,000 jobs to the workforce, with an investment of more than $1 billion over the next five years.

“This is a good day for Wichita but a great day for the IAM because these are the jobs we dominate at the Machinists Union,” said Cornell Beard, Directing Business Representative of IAM District 70.  “There were a lot of states bidding on this work but Kansas won because of its workforce in the Air Capital of the World. The skillset of the Machinists who have been on the ground at Spirit for decades guarantees that this company will continue to be a leader in aerospace and that this industry is dominated by some of the best workers this country has to offer.”

Breaking ground in 2018, Spirit AeroSysytems intends to solidify its place in the Wichita community for years to come.  Fueled by a desire to remain a driving force in the industry, this growth is associated with increasing rates in both its successful commercial aircraft programs and its fabrication and defense businesses. The company intends to build a state-of-the-art facility on the current campus starting next year.

The majority of jobs created will be technical in nature, such as sheet metal mechanics, composite technicians and of course, machinists and journeymen.  Most of these jobs will be union positions under both the IAM and the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA) contracts that will help the company meet unprecedented demand for Boeing’s narrow-body 737, including the new MAX variant.

“It only makes sense to think Wichita when you are planning for the future of the Aerospace industry,” said IAM Southern Territory General Vice President Mark A. Blondin. “Not only do we have a solid foundation of skilled workers on the ground, but this community has generations of families who have given their lives to making sure this industry thrives. That sort of dedication to the job and the product is hard to find, and it’s what separates the Machinists’ work from the rest of the world. The work our members have done for generations speaks for itself…Wichita is the place that sets the curve for excellence in Aerospace.”

With incentives from the state, Spirit is able to not only bring these jobs directly to Wichita, but the new plan will also help to increase thousands of jobs elsewhere in the supply chain.  And the company plans to invest millions in its North Carolina facility.  All of this new work has the IAM taking a long look at the big picture and the future of this industry. Beard believes strongly that the IAM needs to remain diligent in making sure these jobs are here for our children and our grandchildren in generations to come.

“The IAM has created an Apprenticeship program at Spirit to make sure these jobs remain good paying, highly-skilled union jobs that not only take care of Wichita families but also the community at large,” said Beard. “Today’s announcement is a further opportunity to bring back the middle class to its former glory in the Air Capital of the World. It’s time for us to work together to ensure we are setting the path for a brilliant future for all.”