Spirit AeroSystems seeks to discuss contract extension with machinists

WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) Preparing to lay off 2,800 people as it halts production of the 737 Max jet, Spirit AeroSystems asks the machinists union to start contract negotiations.

Union members of local lodge 839 Tuesday began taking a vote on whether to allow union negotiators to talk to Spirit AeroSystems about a contract extension. The current contract between Spirit and the union ends in June.

Union members who spoke with Eyewitness News Tuesday shared mixed emotions about the vote. Many say meeting with Spirit to hear what it has to say won't cause any harm. Others wonder why the union would meet with Spirit now and now when the contract is up in June.

"Well, I'm actually coming over to find out some information because I'm not sure why the union would want to talk to the company about extending the contract that nobody really cared for anyway," Spirit employee Dwight Bergly says.

He says talking with the company now won't help employees future situations.

"Well, I would just like to say that in June, I think the contract is up and they should just talk to them about the contract then," Bergly says. "And you know, then the union maybe would have better leverage about a contract for the future.

Employees like Tempress Moore say they're hopeful the union's meeting with Spirit could help ease the blow of expected layoffs.

Retiree Robert Blay says he supports the union as best he can, but the current situation is about the layoffs and preparing for them.

"It's gonna be rough," Blay says. "To save some money, try to do the very best you can. You know, tighten your budget because it's gonna be rough on a lot of people and I think there will probably be another wave after this."