During contract negotiations, Spirit AeroSystems have failed to come to an agreement with District 70, Local Lodge 839 of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM). As a result, Spirit – supplier of various aerospace components to the largest plane makers – is to suspend production as of June 22, 2023.
District 70, Local Lodge 839 of the IAM, a union representing around 6,000 of Spirit’s employees at the Wichita, Kansas, United States (US) facility, began negotiating a new labor agreement with the company on May 1, 2023, as the current contract is set to expire at 11:59 PM local time on June 23, 2023.
However, 79% of the local IAM members voted against the proposed contract, with 85% approving a strike following the company’s failure to provide an acceptable labor contract to the members of the union. Consequently, Spirit AeroSystems initiated a pre-emptive stoppage of work at the Wichita site.
“We are disappointed that our employees represented by the IAM rejected our four-year contract offer 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 company’s statement read.
The union and the company agreed to a tentative contract on June 16, 2023. Members voted whether or not to approve the four-year agreement on June 21, 2023, with the labor collective announcing the results on June 22, 2023.
Shortly after, District 70, Local Lodge 839 of the IAM released a statement saying that after a 13-year contract, the union had “heard” its members. “The bargaining committee stands ready to return to the bargaining table to address the membership issues,” added the union.
“We know that no one wins in a work stoppage; however, we respect the rights of our represented employees. Despite this setback, we are not distracted from the task at hand,” Spirit AeroSystems concluded.
Spirit AeroSystems is a Tier 1 supplier for multiple Airbus and Boeing programs, as well as multiple Bombardier private jets. The company’s main areas of focus are fuselage systems, propulsion systems and wing systems.
The union’s members “produce 70% of Boeing’s narrow-body aircraft and defense and business jet structures,” according to the IAM. In April 2023, one of Spirit AeroSystems’ employees noticed an unusual production procedure related to the vertical fin attach fittings of certain models of the 737 fuselage. This discovery resulted in Boeing delaying some 737 MAX deliveries and the company incurring a negative financial impact in Q1 2023 and 2023.