Hawker Beechcraft Working Through Strike

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Management at Hawker Beechcraft last week staffed some production-line slots with engineers and salaried workers in order to support production while its machinists strike. The company last week passed its 12th day of work stoppage following the Machinists Union rejection of an Aug. 2, three-year contract offer. Beechcraft Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Jim Schuster said that the company is not running at full strength, but that the company was "pleasantly surprised" -- presumably that it is able to conduct business at all with 4,700 workers at the company's Wichita location currently represented by the striking union. The company says more than 1,000 of those workers remain on the job. Meanwhile, the union is confident it can use the tight labor market to leverage its position, "The qualified workers just aren't there," Machinists Union spokesman Bob Wood told The Wichita Eagle. At least for now, the company (which offers aircraft ranging from the "super-midsize" 14-seat-capable Hawker 4000 business jet to the G36 Bonanza) appears to be on solid financial footing.

Hawker Beechcraft posted an $86.4 million operating income for the quarter, which compares well with the $36 million loss posted during the second quarter of last year. The company is currently running with a record $4.7 billion order backlog that will ultimately require workers on the line to fill. Last week, Schuster told reporters his company was not yet considering hiring replacement workers and he expressed some surprise that the company's last offer was not accepted. It seems, however, that the people who actually produce the product are looking for a larger slice of the pie than they've so far been offered.