The Machinists and Aerospace Workers of Wichita chose death over
continued employment last week. With General Aviation feeling the
brunt of a double blow (cyclic sales downturn + record-poor economy)
Hawker Beechcraft has been struggling to stay afloat. The company and
Wichita have been working together to forge an economic incentive
package to keep the old Beechcraft in Wichita. The company announced
a couple of weeks ago that they would keep most operations in Wichita
if the Union would ratify an agreement to accept some wage and benefit
decreases - Otherwise, they had standing plans and offers to move.
The city of Wichita strongly urged the membership to accept the offer,
because Beech had already outsourced a significant amount of work to
Mexico; and a Louisiana location was strongly courting the company for
the 'full meal deal' - complete buyout of operations. The rumor mill
is also indicating that a major defense company is poised to buy some
of their lucrative training and defense work.
Guess what - the union said no!
Guess what else - The company announced this morning that most of its
remaining Wichita backshop and subassembly operations would be moved
to Mexico during the January through August 2011 time frame.
Immediate effect - 900 jobs, not counting 350 salaried workers that
were laid off this Friday. If the Louisiana deal works out, Beech,
one of the founding companies of Wichita's aircraft manufacturing
legacy, could be gone in a matter of 1-2 more years. For those who
yell "company greed" I would add that several of the executive
management team have invested millions from their pockets to help the
company develop new products during this downturn. They have also
accepted the same pay and benefit cuts proposed to the union.
Do these people not own televisions, radios or subscribe to
newspapers? They are converting Wichita from "Aircraft Capital of the
World" to "Food Stamp Capital of Kansas"; and they are taking hundreds
of salaried engineers, technicians and business ad folks with them.
As of last week, the week after the union vote, the outflow of
talented engineers and other professionals, to other companies had
begun - some companies are standing by to scoop up the cream of
Union greed and stupidity at its best......worst!