Spirit AeroSystems, engineers’ union reach tentative agreementBy Molly McMillin
The Wichita Eagle
After months of negotiations, Spirit AeroSystems and its technical and professional union have reached a tentative agreement on a 91/2-year labor contract.
If ratified by members of the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace, the agreement provides a $2,000 signing bonus, annual market raises starting next year, participation in the Spirit Incentive Plan and increased restrictions on Spirit’s use of contract labor, SPEEA officials said.
A vote will be held in the coming weeks, the union said. The union represents 2,300 employees.
The agreement, announced Wednesday morning, comes after nearly 97 percent of members rejected Spirit’s initial offer on July 28.
“We understand fully that this took a long, long time to put together,” said Bob Brewer, SPEEA’s Midwest director.
Because it was clear from the start that Spirit wanted a long-term agreement, Brewer said, “We took the time to make sure we had the protections in there that all the employees and their families will need going forward.”
Spirit AeroSystems spokesman Ken Evans said the company is pleased with the developments.
“Everyone stayed focused on our goal of keeping the company healthy and the team for the future intact,” Evans said.
“We believe the proposal agreed to at the negotiating table is fair and competitive, and one that allows us to build an even stronger future together.”
SPEEA credits an increase in membership to the outcome. Membership has risen from 30 to 52 percent since the last vote, union officials said.
"The company listened to their employees and made significant improvements on their previous offer," Bill Hurting, SPEEA’s chairman of the Wichita Technical and Professional Unit negotiation team, said in a statement.
If accepted, the contract would use the Salary Information Retrieval System by Mercer, which establishes benchmark salaries, to determine salary pools for annual raises, SPEEA said.
Employees would also participate in the Spirit Incentive Plan, based on company performance targets. Next year’s payout would range from 3 percent to 6 percent. The target for the next two years is 4 percent, but could be as high as 8 percent. The target in years 2015 to 2020 is 6 percent, with a maximum of 12 percent.
The length of the contract is longer than negotiators wanted, but tying increases to the Mercer data and escalating incentive plan targets will assure salaries remain competitive, the union said.
"It’s been a long journey and a tremendous amount of work and effort has been put in to get to the final result," Brewer said in a statement.Reach Molly McMillin at 316-269-6708 or email@example.com
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