Lockheed employees back on the job
By By Steve Gillespie / staff writer
April 30, 2002
About 100 machinists returned to work Monday at Lockheed Martin in Lauderdale County after ending a seven-week strike in support of their counterparts in Marietta, Ga.
Lockheed Martin is the largest defense contractor in the United States. The corporation, headquartered in Bethesda, Md., had sales of $24 billion last year. It employs about 125,000 people.
The local plant builds vertical stabilizers for F-22 Raptor jets, which are built at the plant in Marietta along with military transport planes.
Lockheed Martin machinists in Marietta walked off the job after turning down a three-year contract proposal that offered a 10 percent raise in wages and $1,000 signing bonuses.
Even though union members in Meridian voted for the contract, they went on strike in support of their fellow machinists who were concerned about pensions, health insurance and job security.
About 100 Lockheed Martin machinists in Clarksburg, W.Va., also went on strike.
Bob Wood, communications representative for the International Association of Machinists Southern Territory, said a bargain between the union negotiating committee and Lockheed was reached Wednesday following negotiations overseen by Richard Barnes of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service in Washington.
On Sunday the 2,700 union members affected by the contracts in Mississippi, Georgia and West Virginia approved the agreement by 63 percent. They returned to work Monday.
Peter Simmons, communications manager for Lockheed Martin in Marietta, said Monday that the company would not comment on details of the negotiations that ended the strike.
Wood said one of the changes in the newly accepted contract is an agreement that says the company will inform the union of jobs it is considering "outsourcing" removing a job from a plant and contracting it to someone else.
The agreement will allow the union to suggest options for the company to consider to keep the work at the plant before it is contracted out. Wood said other Lockheed contracts have that clause.
The contract also gave employees a 10 percent salary increase over the its three-year term.
Steve Cobb, manager of Lockheed Martin's plant in Meridian, said he is pleased the employees are back and that the plant has a productive work force again.
And so are the workers.
Mickey Fitzgerald of Little Rock has worked at the plant for 22 years. He was happy to be back at work and said the mood was upbeat.
He said he did carpentry and home construction work to support his wife and two children while he was on strike.