November 05, 2012
Bombardier and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) are returning to the bargaining table as the nearly month-long strike involving 825 workers in Wichita continues.
Bombardier’s Learjet unit and IAM Local 639 agreed to resume negotiations at the request of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS), FMCS Director George Cohen said Friday.
All parties involved, however, have agreed to withhold public comment on the talks “because of the sensitivity of these negotiations, in keeping with our past custom and practice, and the agreement between the parties,” Cohen says.
FMCS could not say when the talks would resume.
Members of Local 639 went on strike Oct. 8 after rejecting a five-year contract proposal over health benefits and wage increases. The strike involves more than 25% of Bombardier’s 3,000 workers in Wichita.
Both parties have prepared for a prolonged strike: Bombardier implemented a contingency plan to minimize disruption, and the IAM agreed to increased strike fund benefits for six weeks.
The strike comes as Learjet had suspended Learjet 60 production and was in the process of phasing out the 40/45, while development continued on the 70/75 and 85. But it also comes as the company was expanding its facilities to bring the newer Learjet into production.
Bombardier executives maintain that the strike does not affect the development process of the new models. Bombardier on Wednesday is scheduled to release its third-quarter earnings, but it won’t affect those results since the strike began at the beginning of the fourth quarter.