Bell Helicopter Workers Vote on Contract Sunday

Bell Helicopter issued contract offer at 9:15 p.m. Thursday

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Members of United Auto Workers Local 218 will gather at Will Rogers Memorial Coliseum in Fort Worth on Sunday to vote on a new contract offer by Bell Helicopter.

    Members of United Auto Workers Local 218 will gather at Will Rogers Memorial Coliseum in Fort Worth on Sunday to vote on a new contract offer by Bell Helicopter.

    The union's current four-year contract agreement expires at midnight Sunday. Thursday night Bell issued what it calls a "last and best" final contract offer.

    According to the union's website, members could ratify the contract agreement on Sunday or declare a strike. The new contract would affect about 2,500 hourly employees at Bell.

    Bell Helicopter Workers Vote on Contract Sunday

    [DFW]Bell Helicopter Workers Vote on Contract Sunday
    Members of United Auto Workers Local 218 will gather at Will Rogers Memorial Coliseum in Fort Worth on Sunday to vote on a new contract offer by Bell Helicopter.

    The big concern is the three-page section called "Company Proposal: Classifications" which outlines several jobs that would be eliminated. Bell employees tell NBC 5 the new contract would eliminate about 200 jobs.

    When asked about the possible lost jobs, a spokesperson for Bell replied:  “Bell Helicopter is negotiating in good faith with the UAW to successfully reach a new contract that meets everyone's needs. Since these negotiations are ongoing, it is inappropriate to discuss details publicly.”

    Bell's CEO John L. Garrison, Jr has said previously the reduction in orders for the V-22 Osprey military aircraft is affecting the company's bottom line.

    Bell laid off about 140 people this year and is still trying to reduce its workforce through early retirement, according to the Star-Telegram.

    Bell references "economic challenges around the globe and uncertainty with defense budgets" in a section of its website addressing frequently asked questions about the last best offer. To answer questions about the contract offer's wage increases and cost of living increases Bell says, "to help secure the future of Bell Helicopter and its employees, all employees must work together now to address structural costs."

    UAW Local 218's negotiations website shows a message from the bargaining committee that reads in part: "Your committee is not seeking a strike. We do not take our recommendation lightly. We will strike if we have to, but our goal is to come to an agreement that we can recommend to accept."

    UAW Local 218 members went on strike and picketed Bell Helicopter for nearly six weeks in 2009.

    According to the UAW Local 218 website the contract ratification meeting at Will Rogers Coliseum's West Texas Room begins at 10:30 a.m. Sunday.

    Editor's Note: A previous version of this story incorrectly said the 2009 strike lasted three weeks. The strike was nearly six weeks. NBC 5 regrets the error.