Wires

UPDATE 1-Machinists go on strike at Bombardier Learjet in Kansas

(Adds company comment)

Oct 8 (Reuters) - Members of the machinists union went onstrike at the Bombardier Inc Learjet facility inWichita, Kansas, on Monday after rejecting a contract offer thatwould raise 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 they voted to reject the contract proposal. The unionrepresents 825 workers who build jets at the Wichita plant.

Wood said the key issue was healthcare, as Bombardier'sproposal would eliminate two HMO plans and sharply increaseout-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.

Peggy Gross, a representative for Bombardier, a Canadiancompany, said the jet maker implemented strike contingency plansto minimize impact on production and deliveries. She said thecompany hoped to resume negotiations soon.

"The company put forth what it believes is a fair proposalfor the long-term success of the company and for our employees,"Gross said.

(Reporting by Karen Jacobs in Atlanta,; Editing by DavidGregorio and Andre Grenon)

((karen.jacobs@thomsonreuters.com))

Keywords: BOMBARDIER STRIKE/