In a sigh of relief for the aviation industry, workers at Spirit Aerosystems, a critical supplier to Boeing, gave a thumbs-up to a new labor deal on Thursday. The approval marks the end of a disruptive labor strike, which led to a production halt at the Wichita, Kansas facility last week.
Spirit Aerosystems is an integral cog in Boeing’s manufacturing machine, supplying fuselages for the popular 737 Max aircraft and other parts for various manufacturers. The assembly line came to an abrupt halt after employees voted down a proposed contract, kickstarting a strike instead. Boeing’s top brass monitored the situation closely due to the potential ripple effect on their production and deliveries.
Stan Deal, the CEO of Boeing’s commercial airplane unit, outlined the company’s concerns in a note to staff. “We continue to monitor the situation as we assess any potential impacts to production and deliveries,” he said.
After a series of discussions, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers union, which represents the 6,000 workers at the facility, arrived at a tentative agreement earlier this week. In a significant turnaround, 63% of the workers green-lighted the new deal, providing a much-needed respite for both the union and the company.
The union expressed satisfaction with the new agreement. “This agreement addresses our members’ concerns with substantial wage increases, maintaining the CORE healthcare plan benefits that the membership insisted on, and includes no mandatory overtime,” the union announced on Tuesday when the deal was in its nascent stage.
With the labor dispute now in the rearview mirror, workers are set to return to their stations on July 5. The resumption couldn’t come at a better time for Boeing, which is eager to rev up the production of new aircraft. Though Boeing was able to cushion the initial impact of the strike thanks to a stockpile of fuselages, the resolution ensures smooth manufacturing in the days to come.
All eyes will now be on Spirit Aerosystems and Boeing, as they race against time to catch up with the production backlog and maintain their market share in the fiercely competitive aviation industry.