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Thousands of Spirit workers to strike after rejecting contract

Local lodge 839 of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) sits across from Spirit facilities off of K-15.
Daniel Caudill
Local lodge 839 of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) sits across from Spirit facilities off of K-15.

Workers at the facility have not gone on strike in 28 years.

Thousands of workers at Spirit AeroSystems in Wichita will go on strike after rejecting a final contract offer from the company.

Workers rejected the contract 79% to 21%, with 85% voting to initiate a strike.

The strike will begin Saturday after the current contract expires. During the work stoppage, workers will not receive pay or benefits from Spirit.

In response to the strike, Spirit says it will suspend factory production on Thursday, prior to the expiration of the current contract.

Spirit also asked employees in the union not to report to any scheduled shifts for the rest of the week. They will still receive pay for their scheduled hours. 

Employees not in the union will be allowed to report to work as usual on Thursday.

Under Spirit's proposed four-year contract, workers would have seen an average wage increase of 4% each year, along with a 2% annual bonus and cost-of-living adjustments.


Spirit's offer included ending mandatory overtime on Sundays. But if workers were scheduled to work overtime on other days, they would have had to use earned-time-off (ETO) to cover an absence.

Workers would also have seen an increase to insurance co-pays, including for emergency room visits and both inpatient and outpatient care at hospitals. Certain prescription drugs may have also been excluded from coverage until patients explored alternatives.

Spirit workers have not had a new contract since 2010. Their current contract expired in 2020 but was extended for three years after production temporarily stopped on the 737 MAX.

Spirit, the city’s largest employer, began negotiating a new contract for about 7,800 workers with a local chapter of the Machinists Union in May. The local union’s contract negotiating committee endorsed the company's final contract offer, but said the decision was ultimately up to the workers.

In a statement, Spirit said it’s disappointed that workers rejected the contract and voted to strike.

“We believe that our fair and competitive offer recognizes the contributions of our employees and ensures we can successfully meet increasing demand for aircraft from our customers,” the statement reads.

Spirit also said it plans to continue meeting with Machinists leadership.

Workers at the facility last went on strike in 1995, when it was still owned by Boeing. The strike lasted 69 days, according to the Machinists.

Click here to read more details on Spirit’s proposed contract. 

Daniel Caudill is a general assignment reporter for KMUW. He was a reporter, photographer and digital content manager for The Derby Informer and an editor and reporter for The Sunflower. In the spring of 2020, Daniel helped cover the legislative session in Topeka as an intern for the Kansas News Service. You can follow him on Twitter @CaudillKMUW.
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