WICHITA, Kan. (AP) -- Boeing's largest union voted Wednesday to reject a contract offer and go on strike, a decision that would have a ripple effect on the company's suppliers here far beyond its Kansas employment numbers.
The walkout by union Machinists was postponed 48 hours at the request of a federal mediator and the governor of Washington, where most of the 27,000 workers covered by the contract are employed.
But union officials in Seattle warned that the strike would take place unless Boeing returned with a better offer within 48 hours.
Although Boeing's Wichita defense plant only employs about 700 machinists, a strike would affect the aircraft maker's suppliers -- particularly companies like Wichita-based Spirit AeroSystems, whose main customer is Boeing.
Spirit AeroSystems is looking at several options, including moving to a shortened work week like it did during the machinists' four-week strike in 2005, said spokeswoman Debbie Gann.
"We're a different company today," Gann said. "We've got other non-Boeing customers that we didn't have three years ago."
Boeing Wichita has a contingency plan in place should there be a strike. But spokesman Jarrod Bartlett said the company is focused on ratification.
The company is "extremely disappointed the union would recommend rejection and a strike for an industry-leading contract offer," he said.
Machinists spokeswoman Connie Kelliher said Boeing's latest offer does not address job security concerns and shifts health care costs, such as higher deductibles and co-payments, more to workers.
After a union meeting Wednesday in Wichita, several members said the mood inside the meeting and in the factory favored a strike. But the few hundred workers in Wichita are not likely to affect the vote by the thousands of workers in Seattle.
"Hopefully, we're going to go on strike," said Roger Heflin, who said he voted against the offer. "Nobody likes it."
He said the contract did not address job security issues and had problems with the seniority language.
"The money sounds good, but everything else is bad," said Tracy Faulconer, a flight-line mechanic and 30-year Boeing employee.