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Latest News - April 2012

April 23, 2012
Lockheed Martin Machinists Expect a Long Strike
By: Doug Magditch

Members of Lockheed Martin's Machinists Local 776 union could be in for a long fight. This is the fifth time the union has gone on strike, and union reps expect it could be the longest.

They're upset with Lockheed's final contract offer. Sunday afternoon, they voted overwhelmingly to go on strike. Union members hit the picket line at 12:01am Monday.

"We don't like the proposal, this is the recourse that we have," said Machinists Local 776 president Paul Black.

The union has a long history with Lockheed Martin. That includes previous strikes in 1946, 1984, 2000, and 2004.

"If it wasn't for my brothers and sisters fighting for me, I'd be down at Walmart greeting people," said Bill Schlegel, who retired from Lockheed Martin in 2010.

The longest strike so far lasted three weeks. This time, the union is expecting it will last longer.

"If we're gonna change the company's mind on some of these proposals, we think it's going to take a long stoppage," said Black.

Lockheed spokesman Joe Stout says the company is operating under a contingency plan, using salaried employees with the right certifications and experience to fill in.

"This is not a matter of replacing employees, this is a matter of implementing contingency plans to continue critical functions to the extent we can so that we can continue to operate and continue to meet the commitments for our customers," said Stout.

"In some cases, they have performed some work on the aircraft, but when we got back to work after the strike was settled, we had to spend a great deal of time repairing some of the damage that they had done trying to work on the aircraft," said Black. "If I'm the government, I don't want those guys in there working on the aircraft. I'd want the people that work on the aircraft every day."

Monday, the strike was civil and orderly. Many of the workers remember a different scene in '84.

"They were throwing beer bottles and really raising cain," said Schlegel.

As the two sides battle, that civility could change. Union members are expecting weeks without work.

"They'll get a little rowdier, push the company a little bit to come up with something that they can vote on," said Schlegel.




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