By Jim Grawe
KWCH 12 Eyewitness News
5:27 PM CDT, October 8, 2012
Machinists at Bombardier Learjet walked off the job and onto the picket line early Monday morning.
This is the second strike in the Wichita plant's history.
Some say this strike might last longer than the three-week strike back in 2006. That strike was over wages and health insurance also, and the company's offer was more generous than this time around. It was just before jet sales took a nosedive.
"I don't think anybody believed the business jet market would be this bad this long," Friends University finance professor Malcolm Harris says.
Harris says Bombardier has less pressure to give in with private jet sales industry-wide still about 40 percent lower than in 2008.
"When business is booming you can afford a strike a lot more than when business isn't booming," Harris says.
At the same time, health care costs continue to climb. Bombardier says it needs to lower labor costs to maintain the size of its workforce and remain competitive.
Workers say they can live with the one-percent-a-year pay increase they were offered, but an extra hundred dollars or more a month for health insurance is just too much.
"The membership is very resolved," union spokesperson Tony Larkin says. "It's something we didn't want to do, I hope it's something that doesn't last long, but we're here and we're going to deal with it."
Meanwhile Harris says, "I see real grounds for conflict here. You can see both sides have reason to want to fight."
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