Hawker Beechcraft Corp. (HBC) and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) set a template for partnership in the future growth of the company after the IAM approved the company’s five-year contract offer on Aug. 6, says HBC Chairman and CEO Bill Boisture. The contract, approved by 69% of IAM voters, marks a turnaround from the contentious negotiations and contract rejection that the company faced last fall.

HBC had opened contract negotiations a year before the last contract was due to expire and had sought 10% in pay cuts and health care concessions over seven years. The IAM Negotiating Committee reluctantly recommended a “yes” vote, fearing that if the proposal failed, the company would move out of Wichita. But the membership rejected the proposal by a 55%-45% vote, and HBC moved forward with plans to shutter facilities and move some work out of the area.

An incentive package from local and state officials – which included key training and education measures – ultimately helped convince the company to stay in Wichita and helped serve as a cornerstone of key employee-development measures in the new contract.

“The new contract encourages open communication, mutual respect and trust, while continuing to leverage the tremendous progress we have made,” Boisture says. “This includes offering the best training opportunities to our employees through our recent agreement with the state of Kansas.”

The IAM Negotiating Committee, which represents 2,600 IAM members at HBC, had unanimously recommended a “yes” vote on the contract, which included measures for pay increases in years three-five and a defined benefit pension plan for new hires.

The contract also includes job security language, discussing which jobs would remain in Wichita. The IAM says this was in response to HBC’s plans to outsource some work and move other work to Mexico.

The contract further creates a Joint Partnership Committee that will “support continuous improvement efforts and jointly address mutually agreed upon topics to further the health of the company.” The committee, the contract adds, “will promote a positive relationship.”

Boisture calls other measures for training and employee development “significant for our company and provides us with the opportunity to grow efficiently in the future and keep high-quality jobs in Wichita.”