Machinists, Bombardier in talks as vote nears

The Machinists union and Bombardier Learjet have three days before members are scheduled to vote on a new labor contract.

The sides have been negotiating since Aug. 24. Union members are scheduled to vote from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at the Machinists District Lodge No. 70 at 3830 S. Meridian.

The current contract expires Tuesday.

Local Lodge 639 represents nearly 900 hourly Learjet workers in Wichita.

Health care and job security are two top issues.

"It's too early to tell" how the talks will go this week, Machinists spokesman Bob Wood said Tuesday.

According to the union's Web site, the company wants the ability to change the start and stop of shift times up to three times a year. It also wants the ability to put in work weeks that start on any day of the week, as long as the days are consecutive.

"Your negotiation committee is standing strong against the company on special work weeks eliminating traditional work hours," the union said on the Web site.

Bombardier also is proposing the elimination of an attendance policy from the contract and instead making it a company rule.

In the last round of talks three years ago, workers struck the company for three weeks. It was the first work stoppage in the Learjet plant's history.