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Spirit AeroSystems Halts Wichita Plant Operations as Workers Vote to Strike

In an announcement made by Spirit AeroSystems on Thursday, the aerospace manufacturer revealed its decision to temporarily suspend factory production at its Wichita, Kansas plant. This move comes in response to workers rejecting a proposed four-year agreement and declaring their intention to commence a strike on June 24.

Prior to the expiration of its contract with the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) on June 24, Spirit AeroSystems will pause factory production, as stated by the company.

Expressing disappointment over the rejection of their contract offer and the subsequent strike vote by IAM-represented employees, Spirit AeroSystems acknowledged the setback but emphasized their commitment to the ongoing objectives. They expressed eagerness for continued discussions with IAM leadership.

Effective June 22, all IAM-represented workers will not report to work but will receive compensation for their regular work hours, according to the company’s directive. However, employees not affiliated with the union are expected to report for duty on Thursday.

The IAM announced that employees at the plant, known for manufacturing crucial structures for Boeing jetliners, will commence the strike on Saturday after turning down the proposed four-year agreement on Wednesday evening.

With approximately 6,000 IAM members voting against Spirit’s final offer, the union has scheduled the strike to commence at 12:01 a.m. CDT (0501 GMT) on June 24.

In a statement, the IAM expressed appreciation for the unwavering dedication of its hardworking members at Spirit AeroSystems, particularly during challenging times, including the disruptive impact of the pandemic. The majority of members deemed the company’s offer unacceptable, leading to the decision to strike.

Last week, IAM and Spirit AeroSystems had reached a tentative agreement that encompassed enhanced health insurance and retirement benefits, voluntary overtime on Sundays, and a potential compounded average pay increase of 34% over the course of four years.

The union now intends to regroup and strategize its next steps in order to bring the company back to the negotiation table.

As of now, Boeing has not responded to requests for comment on the matter.

The Wichita production facility, responsible for manufacturing significant subassemblies for various Boeing aircraft models, plays a vital role in the production of Boeing’s highly sought-after 737 narrowbody aircraft, including the entire fuselage, as well as the forward fuselage of the widebody 787 Dreamliner.

In the previous month, Spirit AeroSystems had anticipated a $31 million decline in its annual gross profit due to disruptions related to 737 MAX fuselages. Furthermore, they recorded a $110 million loss in reach-forward charges pertaining to Airbus and Boeing jet production during the first quarter.

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