Union, Hawker leaders to meet Tuesday with governor

10/13/2010 5:51 PM

10/13/2010 5:51 PM

WICHITA — Hawker Beechcraft and Machinists union officials will meet with Gov. Mark Parkinson in Topeka on Tuesday, in response to Louisiana's offer to move the entire company to Baton Rouge, union officials said today.

Sources have said that Louisiana has raised its offer from $100 million for production of one of Hawker Beechcraft's product lines to $400 million for the company's entire operation.

The company was initially founded as Beech Aircraft in Wichita in 1932 by Walter and Olive Ann Beech. The company employs 7,000 people, including 6,000 in Wichita.

Machinists international president Tom Buffenbarger said Tuesday's meeting offers "an opportunity to make a pitch to the governor jointly — the company and the union — for assistance from the state of Kansas to help solidify a big chunk of those jobs (for Kansas)."

Parkinson is working to find resources for the company, Buffenbarger said.

The Machinists union will send Rich Michalski, international general vice president, to the meeting, and Hawker Beechcraft CEO Bill Boisture also will attend, Buffenbarger said.

Spokeswomen for Hawker Beechcraft and for the governor's office declined to confirm a meeting.

"We don't comment on anything that's not on the governor's public calendar," said spokeswoman Amy Jordan Wooden. "That includes meetings with individuals or groups.''

Still, Jordan Wooden said, "We are going to do everything we can to keep the majority of the jobs.

"We need to look to see if there are incentives that make sense for the state.''

Buffenbarger said Kansas is being raided by other states and needs to find the resources to help the companies that have been so important to Kansas.

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