Wichita machinists union approves 3-year contract extension with Spirit AeroSystems

Published: Jan. 29, 2020 at 5:19 PM CST
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More than half of the members in the Wichita Machinists Union approved a contract extension with Spirit AeroSystems on Wednesday.

The IAM Local Lodge 839 accepted the 3-year contract extension with a 69.5% membership vote.

David Wingate, a laid-off employee and union member, said the extension would help him.

"Without an extension at that time, the labor market will be flooded with people to fill those jobs and people willing to fill those jobs. And they are fearful the company will come back and give them a lower wage than what they were currently at and that's business so, that's the realism of it," he said.

Union president Cornell Beard said employees should know the contract extension was not rushed.

"The reason I believe they think it was rushed, most folks are under the impression that we went in and negotiated an entire contract," said Beard.

But he said that wasn't the case.

"Spirit asked for an extension, so they had a few items they wanted to discuss. So, those few items we discussed those items per our surveys. So we put out surveys to the membership to figure out what's important to everybody going into the contract. So, those surveys dictate the membership's voice on what we will talk about or even entertain and discuss," said Beard.

Wingate said he still had questions.

"The contract reads if we aren't employed when the contract runs out the 26th of June that we will no longer have call back rights," he queried.

Beard said some members misunderstood the callback language in the contract.

"We have never had a company come back and tell us they're not going to honor callback rights. Because the first thing they want to do is bring back everybody they can. And the fair way to do that is bring them back by seniority, which would mean you honor our callback rights," he said.

Wingate said his main focus moving forward is layoffs, which he hopes aren't permanent.

"I just hope it doesn't last long for a lot of people's sake. A lot of people are affected by this," said Wingate.