Aaron Stapleton ‘takes a stand’ on Hawker Beechcraft

Aaron Stapleton, Special to the Dodger

Dear Editor of the Dodger:

The fate of Hawker Beechcraft in Wichita, Kan., is still being doubted by officials of the company. Hawker Beechcraft is not building as much aircraft as they previously have and they are not making the money they should be.

Officials of Hawker must resolve this issue or they might have to move to a new location in the United States. The company employs 6,000 people in Wichita and a total of 7,000 overall. The company is located in Wichita for the most part. To resolve this huge issue, Hawker Beechcraft proposed a contract that may be agreed or may not be agreed by the machinists. On Oct. 16, 2010, the contract was rejected by the machinists. There are sections of the contract that the machinists didn’t agree and I don’t know if I agree with the machinists who didn’t agree.

The day that the contract was to be voted on, 55% of the machinists voted “no.” The three main reasons that the machinists most likely voted no was that their base wages were reduced 10%, reduced earned time off, and increased health insurance contributions. The 6,000 employees of Wichita in Hawker Beechcraft would lose 10% of their wages. The average wage is $27, so they would only be cut around $2.70 on average. Starting October 2011, their wages would then be increased $.15 per hour each 26 weeks. The contract also said that their time off would be reduced from 10 days to 5 days. The last major section of the contract was that health insurance contributions would increase. Then health insurance would increase 25% this next January to 30% as of January 2013.

I don’t believe that the machinists at Hawker Beechcraft should have voted no, because they would put 6,000 people in Wichita out of jobs. Wichita’s Mayor Carl Brewer said, “As mayor, I will be in contact with the various parties in an attempt to bring a positive outcome to this very troubling situation.” Even the mayor does not believe this should happen, because then there would be a lot of unemployment in Wichita. Even Governor Mark Parkinson said he was “…optimistic that the two parties will reach a successful resolution that can be approved by a majority of union members.” A lot of people will be jobless and may go poor just because they cannot negotiate. How would you feel if you lost your job that paid about $27 because you couldn’t negotiate a compromise with the company? You might go poor and not be able to support your family. At least if you were to lose 10% of your wage, lost some days off, and had to pay more for health insurance you would still have a job and an income. Most people believe that they should have a job to support themselves and family and might not care if they had to go work for a contract like this one. I would still work so I could support my family and myself.

In conclusion, I believe that the machinists at Hawker Beechcraft should not vote “no” over a contract that would end up hurting the economy in Wichita. Even the mayor of Wichita wants a positive outcome so that 6,000 people wouldn’t lose jobs and go unemployed. Their wages were only dropped an average of $2.70 an hour. That is still 3 times the amount of what I make and I work every single day no matter what at DCRP because I do everything. I would definitely vote yes for the contract. Or at least the company could make a new offer, but this one would be okay for me.


Aaron Stapleton