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Machinists at Learjet eligible for strike pay

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2012, at 8:30 p.m.

Strikers at Bombardier’s Learjet plant in Wichita will be eligible to collect $350 a week in strike pay starting in the third week of the strike, Machinists union leaders told members this week.

Each Local Lodge 639 union member will be eligible for $200 a week from a Light Aircraft Steering Committee fund. A portion of a member’s dues, 50 cents per month, goes into the fund.

An additional $150 a week will come from an International strike fund. The payments were approved this week by International president Tom Buffenbarger and general vice president Robert Martinez.

The Light Aircraft Steering Committee approved the payments for six weeks, according to a letter to members from Frank Molina, president and directing business representative of the Machinists District 70.

The committee will review the payments at that point, the letter said.

To receive the checks, members must have paid three months of dues and register and walk or work a four-hour strike shift twice a week.

The first checks will be distributed Oct. 31 at the District 70 headquarters. They must be picked up by the member and only on that day, Molina said in the letter.

In the meantime, no new negotiations have been scheduled with the company, said Machinists spokesman Bob Wood.

“We keep in contact, but there’s no movement,” Wood said. “It’s early yet.”

The union went on strike Oct. 8 after rejecting the company’s offer of a five-year labor agreement.

The rejected offer included a zero percent raise in the first year followed by a 1 percent raise in each of the next four years.

The biggest sticking point, however, according to union members, was elimination of two HMO plans and a significant increase in health care costs.

The Machinists represent about 825 hourly workers at the Learjet plant in west Wichita. Of those, fewer than 500 are dues-paying union members, Wood said.

Not all of them have joined the strike.

“But most all of them are out,” Wood said.

It’s the second time the Machinists have struck the company in Wichita. The union also struck in 2006.

Contact Molly McMillin at 316-269-6708 or mmcmillin@wichitaeagle.com.

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