Negotiators for Spirit AeroSystems and the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace kicked off the financial part of contract talks Monday morning at the east-side Holiday Inn Select.
The financial negotiations, which begin after about three weeks of subcommittee talks covering non-monetary issues, are the latest in efforts to reach a new contract between Spirit and SPEEA before their current contract expires July 11. The contract affects approximately 2,300 professional non-engineering employees in Wichita.
Adam Pogue, Spirit's vice president of labor relations and workforce strategies, and Bob Brewer from SPEEA addressed the media before the negotiations began.
Union negotiators said they expect a contract offer from the company in the next couple of days.
"We've got some work ahead of us. There's no doubt about that," Brewer said.
He didn't rule out a long-term contract, like the 10-year deal the Machinists union negotiated last year with Spirit.
"We haven't seen an offer yet from the company in regards to duration. We think there may be an appetite for that," he said.
SPEEA's initial proposal to Spirit included improvements in retirement, medical and pension plans, salary adjustment funds and cost-of-living protections, better notification of subcontracting and outsourcing, improvements in shift compensation, increased earned time off, improvements in job classification language and in the retention rating notification process and an extended recall period.
"It's taken a lot of hard work to get to this point by both teams," Pogue said.
"The partnership between SPEEA and Spirit is extremely important to us. It affects a quarter of our workforce... but the impact is much broader.
"What we need to come away with is not just a contract but a working-together agreement that is truly interest-based and supports the needs of our people as well as our company."
Brewer agreed with Pogue's point that it's important that the contract is mutually beneficial.
"We're looking at things — how they worked, how they didn't work, how we think they ought to work. I think we've got some opportunities... to attract and retain a great workforce here in Wichita."