Aviation

Machinists to vote Saturday on Hawker Beechcraft offer

Machinists union members of Local Lodge 733 at Hawker Beechcraft will vote Saturday on whether to accept the company's seven-year contract.

Polls will be open from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Kansas Coliseum Pavilion. An informational meeting on the details of the offer will begin at 10 a.m.

A simple majority is required for ratification. A strike vote is not on the table because the talks opened a year early.

Sources have said Hawker Beechcraft, which has been looking for ways to cut costs to help offset an unprecedented downturn in the general aviation market, has received an offer from Louisiana to move its operations to Baton Rouge.

But last week the company accepted a package of state incentives that would keep the majority of jobs in Wichita, where it has 6,000 employees. The deal is contingent upon a new contract with the Machinists.

Under the terms of the company's proposal, Hawker Beechcraft would keep two-thirds of the 2,600 Machinists jobs in Wichita.

Union leaders have recommended members accept the contract.

The proposed contract includes:

* A 10 percent reduction in base wages, which average $27 an hour.

* A performance pay program for future increases that uses the same financial criteria as the management plan.

* Automatic wage progressions starting October 2011 of 15 cents per hour each 26 weeks until the maximum labor grade is reached.

* Lump-sum payment capped at $1,000 per year in a cost-of-living adjustment.

* Earned time off reduced from 10 days to five.

* Pensions remaining at $51 per month per year of service.

* The retention of current health care providers.

* Three-year cost sharing of health insurance of 25 percent beginning in January, increasing to 30 percent in January 2013.

* An extension of recall rights.

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