Spirit AeroSystems
Fuselage assembly at Spirit AeroSystems, Wichita, Kan.

Airframe Builder Halts Production Ahead of Strike

June 22, 2023
With IAM union members rejecting a tentative agreement and endorsing a strike to begin once their current deal expires, Spirit Aero suspends manufacturing fuselages and other structural parts.

Commercial and military airframe builder Spirit AeroSystems suspended its Wichita, Kan., manufacturing operations on June 22 after the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers union announced plans to strike on June 24. The IAM union members rejected the company’s proposed four-year labor agreement, which would have succeeded the contract expiring on June 24.

Five other Spirit AeroSystems plants in Maine, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Texas are not affected by the decision to suspend production, though with a reported 11,000 workers the Wichita plant is by far the largest of the group.

Spirit AeroSystems supplies major airframe products to both Boeing and rival Airbus, so a prolonged outage could have a significant effect on aerospace supply chains. Spirit supplies the full fuselage for Boeing’s best-selling aircraft, the narrow-body 737 MAX; and forward sections for other Boeing series. It also supplies structural components to Airbus for its A220 mid-sized jets, which are assembled in Mobile, Ala.

The proposed four-year contract was reached last week and submitted to the union membership for approval. “We believe that our fair and competitive offer recognizes the contributions of our employees and ensures we can successfully meet increasing demand for aircraft from our customers,” Spirit stated, announcing its suspension of production.

Reportedly, nearly 80% of IAM members voted to reject the contract proposal, and an even higher percentage voted to approve the strike.

"The IAM's dedicated and hardworking membership at Spirit AeroSystems has worked without fail during tumultuous times, including a pandemic that saw everything grind to a halt. Most of our members have concluded that the company's offer is unacceptable," according to an IAM statement.

About the Author

Robert Brooks | Content Director

Robert Brooks has been a business-to-business reporter, writer, editor, and columnist for more than 20 years, specializing in the primary metal and basic manufacturing industries. His work has covered a wide range of topics, including process technology, resource development, material selection, product design, workforce development, and industrial market strategies, among others. Currently, he specializes in subjects related to metal component and product design, development, and manufacturing — including castings, forgings, machined parts, and fabrications.

Brooks is a graduate of Kenyon College (B.A. English, Political Science) and Emory University (M.A. English.)