Machinists go on strike at Bombardier Learjet in Kansas

Oct 8 (Reuters) - Members of the machinists union went onstrike at Bombardier Learjet's facility in Wichita,Kansas, on Monday after rejecting a contract offer that wouldraise healthcare costs.

Bob Wood, a spokesman for the International Association ofMachinists and Aerospace Workers, said union members werewalking picket lines on Monday at the Bombardier aircraft plantafter 79 percent of them voted to reject the company's contractproposal. The union represents 825 workers who build jets at theWichita plant.

Wood said the key issue was healthcare, as Bombardier'sproposal would eliminate two HMO plans and sharply increaseworkers' out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs.

He also said the company's proposed five-year contract wouldallow no raises the first year and increases of 1 percent foreach of the next four years.

"Whenever they are ready to put those HMOs back on thetable, we're certainly ready to negotiate but not until then,"said Wood.

A representative for Bombardier, a Canadian company, did notimmediately respond to a request for comment.

(Reporting by Karen Jacobs; Editing by David Gregorio)