Negotiators for Hawker Beechcraft and the Machinists union plan to meet for the first time since the union went on strike 18 days ago.
A federal mediator requested the sides meet to "explore options concerning the strike and negotiations," the company and union said.
The mediator talked to the parties Wednesday. He asked that the location, date and time of the meeting remain undisclosed, union spokesman Bob Wood said.
It is a step forward, said Rita Rogers, a member of the union´s negotiating team.
"At least we´re going to see where each party stands right now," Rogers said.
On Aug. 2, 90 percent of union members voting rejected the company´s three-year proposal; 89 percent voted to strike. The work stoppage began Aug. 4.
The Machinists represent 4,700 hourly workers at Hawker Beechcraft in Wichita and about 500 in Salina.
Hawker Beechcraft spokesman Andrew Broom said that the proposal was the best the company has offered the union in the past 20 years.
"We still think it´s a great contract," he said.
Juice Bruner, first-shift assistant plant chair, said he was happy the company wanted to talk.
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