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Machinists Union Urges Strike At Cessna

Current Contract Set To Expire Sunday

The union representing machinists working at Cessna in Wichita have recommended that the rank and file members reject a contract offer from the plane maker it received Tuesday and walk off the job.

"We must report to you that our negotiations with Cessna were not successful," union leaders for Machinists and Aerospace Workers Local 774 wrote in an open letter to the membership. "Your Negotiating Committee has worked to give the company the flexibility they requested for today’s environment, while protecting the membership of this union, their employees. We have worked hard to come to an agreement that was good for both sides."

Under the terms of Cessna's "last-and-best" offer, union members would be required to pick up more of their health care premiums, which the union said amounted to a 160 percent increase in some cases. There would be no pay increase for the next 4 years, and only one percent increases for some employees in the following three years of the contract, regardless of the condition of the economy. The Wichita Eagle reports that union leaders said in a statement that the only "job security" in the contract was a pledge to keeping the final assembly of the Citation family of airplanes in Wichita. The paper indicated that Cessna CEO Jack Pelton said in a statement the contract offer is fair, given the state of both the economy and the aviation industry.

The vote on accepting or rejecting the contract requires only a simple majority vote, according to the paper, but a strike vote requires the assent of two-thirds of the union members who cast votes. If a majority votes to reject the contract, but the strike vote threshold is not reached, the contract is considered accepted by default. The vote on the contract is scheduled for Saturday. "Your Negotiating Committee is unanimous in recommending that you vote to REJECT the contract offer and vote to STRIKE," the letter concluded.

FMI: www.cessna.com, www.ll774.org

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