Machinists at Bombardier Learjet to rally today

The Machinists at Bombardier Learjet, who are in the final hours of contract negotiations, are planning to rally this afternoon at the Pump House in Old Town.

“Negotiations are tough and the Negotiating Committee needs your help to get Bombardier’s attention so Learjet employees can have a good contract,” information about the rally posted on the union’s website said.

Members will vote on Bombardier’s offer from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday at the Cotillion Ballroom.

The union represents 825 hourly workers at the Learjet facility in west Wichita. The current three-year contract expires Oct. 8.

“Wichita aircraft workers built this city,” information about the rally said. “Good jobs at good wages and benefits have made Wichita strong. We have to continue to fight to keep strong IAM Contracts at our Wichita companies.”

Bombardier Learjet vice president and general manager Ralph Acs has warned that the company is facing the reality of a continued challenging market. During the last round of talks in 2009, the  company thought that an economic recovery was imminent.

But that hasn’t happened.

The Learjet plant has experienced layoffs and production rate slowdowns as a result. And a weak market has led to a pause in Learjet 60 business jet production.