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Striking Workers at Key Boeing Supplier Approve New Contract

They will return to work this week.

This Thursday, July 25, 2013, photo shows Spirit AeroSystems in Wichita, Ks.
This Thursday, July 25, 2013, photo shows Spirit AeroSystems in Wichita, Ks.
Mike Hutmacher/The Wichita Eagle via AP, File

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Workers at Spirit AeroSystems have ratified a new contract and will end a brief strike that threatened to disrupt the manufacturing of airline jets at Boeing, a key customer.

The International Association of Machinists said the 6,000 workers at a plant in Wichita, Kansas, will return to their jobs on Wednesday. They went on strike last weekend after voting down a previous offer.

The union said late Thursday that 63% of members who voted on the new four-year contract proposal agreed to accept it. The union said it contained "significant improvements" in wages, overtime rules and prescription-drug coverage compared with the rejected offer.

The company said it would begin restoring operations at the plant Friday in anticipation of resuming full production next week.

"We listened closely to our employees and brought forward a fair and competitive offer," CEO Tom Gentile said in a statement.

Details of the contract were not disclosed. The rejected offer included average pay raises totaling 34%, more paid time off, and an increase in retirement benefits, according to the union.

Spirit builds the fuselage for Boeing 737 Max jets and makes other components for airline and military planes built by Boeing, Airbus and other manufacturers. Boeing has faced supply-chain problems at Spirit and engine suppliers, and a long strike at Spirit would have made those disruptions worse.

Shares of Spirit AeroSystems Holdings Inc. fell 1% in midday trading. Boeing shares were unchanged.

When the strike was announced last week, shares of Boeing slid 3% and Spirit tumbled 9%.

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