Learjet union's contract vote today

Machinists union members at Bombardier Learjet will vote today on whether to accept the company's offer of a new three-year contract.

Union negotiators unanimously recommend acceptance.

"I think this is a very good proposal," said Machinists union District 70 president Steve Rooney. "We all know the economy that we face and are facing is very tough."

The proposal addresses the members' issues yet recognizes that times and the market are not the best, Rooney said.

Bombardier spokeswoman Danielle Boudreau called the offer a "win-win" proposal.

"We feel it is an offer that is good for both Bombardier and its employees for now and also moving forward together," Boudreau said.

The union represents about 900 hourly employees in Wichita. The current contract expires Monday.

The vote is being held at the Machinists District 70 at 3830 S. Meridian.

Doors open at 9 a.m. A meeting to go over the proposal will begin at 10 a.m. Voting will begin after the meeting and end at 1 p.m.

A simple majority is required to accept the offer. If it is rejected, a strike requires approval by two-thirds of the members voting.

The company's proposal includes wage increases of 2 percent the first year and 3 percent in each of the next two years. It also includes a $6 increase in pension benefits to $50 a month for each year worked.

On health care premiums, the company continues to pay 85 percent of the cost in the first two years. That declines to 80 percent in the third year, although a new health care plan retains the 85/15 percent split.

The offer also addresses job security issues, he said. It increases the number of weeks of severance pay if an employee is laid off because of subcontracting and it extends recall rights.