Spirit AeroSystems Union Workers Approve New Deal To End Strike
Union workers at Spirit AeroSystems will return to work on July 5 after they agreed to an improved four-year labor agreement from the key Tier 1 aerostructures provider, union representatives announced late June 29.
About 6,000 members of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) Local 839 (District 70) at Spirit voted June 29 to ratify the revised contract. Details were not immediately provided of vote results. The new four-year deal takes effect July 5.
It begins with a 20% pay hike over four years, versus just 16% before in a deal that was rejected by union voters. The first year also has a guaranteed 3.5% cost of living adjustment, and additional COLAs up to the same percentage would be rolled into base pay. There further is a $3,000 signing bonus.
Perhaps just as importantly, the new deal includes no changes to the “core” and “enhanced” health insurance plans, and it includes continuation of existing pharmacy and prescription drug list coverage. Discontent with earlier health care terms was a key reason for members rejecting the last offer, according to local news reports.
IAM workers began striking June 24 after they rejected the previous Spirit offer June 21. The rejection and overwhelming vote to strike caught nearly everyone in industry from Wichita to the Paris Air Show, which was happening at the time, by surprise. Local Wichita news reports fingered health care provisions from Spirit’s earlier proposal as a major point of disagreement.
“It’s never an easy decision to make when voting to go out on strike, but our membership felt that excluding vital medication in their core insurance plan was unacceptable,” said IAM Southern Territory Chief of Staff Craig Martin.
Still, both Spirit management and union negotiators were confident in their previous deal, leading to shock by many when union voters overwhelmingly rejected it and opted for striking. Higher-level union leaders entered negotiations after membership rejected the previous deal.
“We knew these negotiations were not going to be your typical set of talks,” said IAM Local 839 Chief Negotiator Jason Baze. “Our membership clearly said the original offer was unacceptable by rejecting it soundly. The committee returned to the table to address their concerns.”
IAM representatives noted the Spirit negotiations continue a string of critical aerospace dealmaking for the union, including at Boeing in 2024, as well as Lockheed Martin, and RTX’s Pratt & Whitney.