Machinists union to sue Spirit over outsourcing

Spirit Aerosystems (KSN File Photo)

WASHINGTON – The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) announced it would file a lawsuit today against Spirit AeroSystems.

The lawsuit is over the company’s plans to outsource IAM-represented jobs by selling a key fabrication operation and the use of outside contractors to perform work currently done by IAM-represented Spirit employees.

“The new leadership at Spirit AeroSystems is embarking on the same misguided approach that caused customers to wait an extra two years for Boeing 787 Dreamliner deliveries,” said IAM International President R. Thomas Buffenbarger. “IAM-represented employees have shown time and again that they are the best aerospace workers in the world. They are the right choice to make Spirit AeroSystems successful for customers and shareholders.”

Spirit employees in Wichita build fuselage sections for all current Boeing programs, which includes the 737, 747, 767, 777 and 787 aircraft; nacelle, strut and pylon components for the 737, 747,767 and 777; as well as components for the Bombardier C Series and the Mitsubishi Regional Jet.

Using the misnomer of “insourcing,” Spirit’s sale of its fabrication unit, a major manufacturing operation, and plans to use outside contractor employees in tool supply, shipping, paint stores and other support functions will displace IAM-represented workers. The IAM lawsuit alleges these actions are a breach of the IAM-Spirit AeroSystems agreement. The IAM will request a federal district court to issue an injunction prohibiting Spirit from selling the fabrication unit or outsourcing any union jobs pending arbitration of the dispute.

“Boeing learned the hard way that the more outside contractors on a project, the more production and delivery problems there are,” said Buffenbarger. “That’s why our agreement with Spirit AeroSystems calls for a strong partnership to make the company successful and create jobs for our members, the people who have a stake in Spirit’s success. We have worked hard to do our part, but the new leadership at Spirit seems determined to follow a course that just doesn’t work in the aerospace industry.”

Spirit released the following statement Friday afternoon in response to the IAMAW lawsuit:

“We certainly understand the obligations in our labor agreements, and believe we are in compliance. Spirit does not comment outside of the legal process regarding pending litigation. As we have stated consistently and as recently as our 2nd quarter earnings call last week, Spirit is constantly evaluating the strategic vision for our company – what is core to our future growth, what are we best at, what differentiates us in the marketplace? That evaluation is ongoing and we have made no decisions.” – Ken Evans, Senior Manager, Spirit AeroSystems, Inc.

The IAM represents approximately 7,200 workers at Spirit AeroSystems and is one of the largest industrial trade unions in North America representing more than 600,000 active and retired members.

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