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Union SPEEA files complaint against Spirit over firing of 38 workers

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Tuesday, June 11, 2013, at 10:48 a.m.

The Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace has filed an unfair labor charge against Spirit AeroSystems alleging that Spirit refused to answer questions or bargain regarding the firing of 38 employees in March.

SPEEA said company officials refused to provide information or answer questions during a formal grievance meeting.

Spirit managers said during the meeting that they would continue to refuse to answer questions, SPEEA alleges.

“This is a complete repudiation of the established grievance process and Spirit’s own policies,” Bob Brewer, SPEEA Midwest director, said in a statement.

Spirit refutes the allegations.

“The allegation is untrue,” Spirit spokesman Ken Evans said in an e-mailed statement. “Once the Board has all the facts, we are confident that they will dismiss it.”

The charge was filed at the U.S. Department of Labor Region 7 office in Kansas on Monday.

Only a few of the 38 dismissed employees had documented performance issues, SPEEA alleges.

None was given the chance to improve his or her performance.

“Instead, Spirit managers told each employee to get their personal items and leave,” the union said.

At the time, Spirit management said it was taking the action to send a message to all employees, Brewer said in the statement.

Of the 38 employees, 15 are challenging their dismissals.

SPEEA represents 807 Spirit engineers and 2,162 professional and technical employees.

The meeting, formally called a Step 3 grievance meeting, is part of a process used to resolve issues between labor unions and management.

The grievance meetings are designed for both parties to exchange information, clarify positions and ask questions, the union said.

“Information is shared at these meetings in an attempt to reach a remedy or settlement based on the entire facts of the case,” the union said.

In February 2011, Spirit dropped the performance ratings of more than 1,000 SPEEA-represented employees, according to union officials.

In 2012, 83 employees were put on Performance Coaching Plans. Few of them had documented performance issues, the union said.

The ratings are used to grant raises, to give promotions and, in extreme cases, to terminate employees.

Steps in the process are negotiated and included in the union contract.

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

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