UPDATE 1-Machinists go on strike at Bombardier Learjet in Kansas

Mon Oct 8, 2012 6:47pm EDT

Oct 8 (Reuters) - Members of the machinists union went on strike at the Bombardier Inc Learjet facility in Wichita, Kansas, on Monday after rejecting a contract offer that would raise healthcare costs.

Bob Wood, a spokesman for the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, said union members were walking picket lines on Monday at the Bombardier aircraft plant after they voted to reject the contract proposal. The union represents 825 workers who build jets at the Wichita plant.

Wood said the key issue was healthcare, as Bombardier's proposal would eliminate two HMO plans and sharply increase out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs.

He also said the company's proposed five-year contract would allow no raises the first year and increases of 1 percent for each of the next four years.

"Whenever they are ready to put those HMOs back on the table, we're certainly ready to negotiate, but not until then," said Wood.

Peggy Gross, a representative for Bombardier, a Canadian company, said the jet maker implemented strike contingency plans to minimize impact on production and deliveries. She said the company hoped to resume negotiations soon.

"The company put forth what it believes is a fair proposal for the long-term success of the company and for our employees," Gross said.

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