Hawker Beechcraft Workers Head Out On Strike

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ The machinists union is striking at Hawker Beechcraft.

A work stoppage began at 12:01 a.m. Monday when the current three-year contract ended.

The current contract for about 4,700 hourly workers at the Wichita plant and 500 more in Salina expired Sunday at midnight.

Machinists rejected the company's offer overwhelmingly on Saturday with 90 percent voted against the contract and 89 percent voting to strike.

A few dozen people were picketing at the Wichita plant on Monday morning and many cars were backed up trying to get into the plant.

The machinists last struck the company in 1984.

The union says sticking points are health care, pension benefits and a salary disparity between Hawker workers and what their peers get paid at Cessna Aircraft.

But the company contends its hourly wages are only 30 cents less than Cessna and points out that Cessna has a higher backlog and profits.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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