If you are a local, or even a Kansan, you probably know about the Hawker Beechcraft drama that has been going on here lately.
Here's the basic skinny. Company in debt. Wants to cut costs. State of Louisiana offered a lot of money/incentives to the company to move a bunch of work down there. Union opened contract negotiations with company to see if they could get a new contract through to encourage the company to keep the work here. Negotiations halted because supposedly there was not anything that could be done to compete with the Louisiana offer. Discussion turned to the possiblity of the entire company moving. State of Kansas stepped in to see if they could offer incentives to keep the work here. They offered, and based on the Union passing a new contract (including paycuts, loss of vacation days, etc) then HBC will leave some jobs here.
There have been news reports and rumors galore. A lot of people dogging on "the Union" and "greedy union people," etc.
Let me set a few things straight here, from my perspective.
1. All hourly workers are NOT union members. Their wages and benefits fall under the Union contract, but that does not mean that all hourly workers think the Union is a great thing.
2. A union member is not better than a non union member, and vice versa. Everyone is entitled to their opinion regardless of dues. Everyone is entitled to want to make good money.
3. If a company wants to make pay cuts and vacation cuts, etc...it should be across the board to hourly and salaried workers, not just the "union contract." It is not hourly versus salaried, and everyone who is being "saved" by tax incentives should "get" to give up the same things.
4. Salaried workers are not better than hourly workers. Hourly might make more...hourly... but salaried get (usually) some flex time with their schedule, air conditioning, etc. If a salaried person has a dr appt they can take a long lunch and make up the time, or take a late lunch to accomodate it, etc. Hourly employees (usually) do not have that option.
5. I think all the people commenting on the news stories saying things about aircraft workers making too much money etc should consider this... would they be saying that if THEY were the one making that money? Probably not.
Now in regards to all the Louisiana rumors crap.
1. I don't think HBC ever intended to move the entire company to Louisiana. I think their plan was to move sub assemblies or one of the product lines there. Which still sucks, but...
2. I think they "ceased negotiations" and put out the "rumors" that the entire company was going to move there as a scare tactic...that tactic resulted in #3 and #4 below...
3. Now they have money coming from Louisiana to move some jobs there (guessing about 1000), and the state of Kansas to leave some jobs here (the other jobs...that they probably never intended to send to LA anyways).
4. Now that they've had everyone scared and holding their breath, it is basically strong arming the "union vote" to accept the crappy contract. I don't think it would have passed before. This whole "moving the whole company" thing got enough people scared.
The new contract will probably include a pay cut for a lot of people. They have talked about taking away 5 days of (earned based on number of years service) vacation time. They have talked about taking away 5 days of sick time as well. Hourly employees get sick and have sick kids just as much as salaried people do. As mentioned above, they don't get the chance to flex-time things like doctors appointments, etc. I can handle a bit of a paycut around here, but we just got those extra 5 days of vaca recently, don't really want to give them up again!!!
People who think that aircraft workers make too much need to remember this: This town is full of aviation workers. Wichita is what it is in large part to the aviation workers. Because we have a well-paid industry, a lot of people are able to leave tips on the tables at our hundreds of restaurants. A lot of small businesses get shopped by these aviation families. Take away our good pay, you take away our ability to contribute to the economy that way. Survive on less wages, yeah...of course people survive on less all the time. But less money in our pockets is less money in lots of other people's pockets too!!
These are my opinions. I write as a wife of an aviation worker. I write as a former salaried employee in the aviation world. I write as a member of a family who has worked three generations at Hawker Beechcraft. I write as someone who is grateful for the blessings we have had in life and from my husband's hard earned income. I write as someone who does not want to move to Louisiana. If you disagree, that is fine. But this is my blog, so if you are going to leave a comment, you best be nice.
Now the question is...will the union take a new contract? Will it suck? Do we really have to lose vacation days to make the ends meet? Are the salaried people going to feel the same cuts the hourly guys do? How much time does it buy us? Does this mean I can go shopping now?
I can tell you one thing it does mean. Ya'll should order more cakes because I think we're going to need it. And if you have a good secure job... time to book a vacation :)
Keep on praying for the security of Wichita jobs and our livelihood!
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