Machinists union recommends strike at Cessna


Sept. 14--WICHITA -- Machinists union leaders are recommending members reject Cessna Aircraft's contract offer and strike when they vote Saturday.

The union received Cessna's seven-year offer today.

"We must report to you that our negotiations with Cessna were not successful," the union told workers this morning.

The negotiating committee tried to partner with the company to save jobs, Machinists District 70 directing business representative Steve Rooney said in a statement.

"But Cessna instead chose to use the economic downturn as an opportunity to gut the contract, and saddle employees with extreme and punitive measures," Rooney said.

Job security in the contract is limited to keeping the final assembly of the Citation product line, the union said.

One of the biggest areas of contention is health insurance.

Cessna's parent company, Textron, "demanded that all employees switch to United Health Care, a 'consumer-based health care plan,' the union said.

The union called the insurance a "cousin" to the Definity plan.

Under it, premiums rise by up to 160 percent, the union said, and will cost employees and average of $4,000 to $5,000 more per year, it said.

The contract also:

--Provides a $2,500 lump-sum bonus in 2011 and a $1,000 bonus in 2012.

--A one-time $2 increase per month per year of service in the pension plan for the length of the contract.

--No general wages increases for four years, and a 1 percent wage increase in each of the last three years for some workers.

--A "performance pay" system that is not tied to executive bonuses.

The current agreement expires Sunday.

Members of the Machinists Local Lodge 774 will vote Saturday at Century II on whether to accept the contract.

Acceptance takes a simple majority. A strike requires two-thirds of those voting to vote in favor of a work stoppage.

If members reject the contract but do not have enough votes to strike, the contract is accepted by default.

Reach Molly McMillin at 316-269-6708 or