Lockheed contract ratified
by Marcus E. Howard
mhoward@mdjonline.com
March 07, 2011 12:00 AM | 5728 views | 15 15 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Lockheed Martin worker Gordon Wiseman shows his union card to Finance Office Secretary Becky Taylor at the front counter before proceeding to the voting polls on Sunday afternoon. <br> Photo by Todd Hull
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MARIETTA - Lockheed Martin union workers averted a strike by ratifying a three-year contract on Sunday that was proposed by the aircraft manufacturing company.

The company released a statement that said the proposal was the result of good faith negotiations between the company and the union. No new changes were made to the proposed contract, said Erica Crosling, a company spokeswoman who said she learned of the ratification shortly before 10 p.m. Sunday.

"There were no new changes to the contract that we proposed in our best, last and final offer, which we gave to the union on Wednesday of last week. That is the contract that the union employees voted on and that is the contract that is ratified," she said.

"We're clearly pleased. This just means that we can continue to serve our customers in the outstanding and stellar way that our customers have become accustomed to. At the end of the day for us, it's all about our employees, and of course, delivering on our commitment to our customers."

The agreements cover nearly 6,000 union employees in Marietta, California and several other locations.

Leaders of Local Lodge 709 of the International Association of Machinists in Marietta had urged the 3,500 employees it represents to vote to strike when negotiations weren't reached last week.

The old contract was set to expire at 12:01 a.m. today and many union workers had prepared to picket in front of the plant.

Earlier on Sunday, Denise Rakestraw, IAM Local 709 president, said she hoped union members would back the negotiation committee's decision to strike.

"I have to have faith and confidence in the membership," she said. "It's up to them now."

She also said that union negotiators did not take the votes of its members lightly, particularly when the nation is facing so many economic uncertainties.

"I understand the gravity of what we're asking this membership to do. But the consequences of accepting this proposal are much, much worst," Rakestraw stated.

Rakestraw did not return cell phone messages asking for a comment regarding the ratification by press time.

It's been six years since Lockheed union employees voted to strike.

They went on strike for a week and 44 days over contracts in 2005 and 2002, respectively. However, in March 2008, workers avoided striking by ratifying a three-year deal.

Prior to Sunday, company and union negotiators had negotiated for several weeks but failed to reach tentative agreements in three separate sets of collective bargaining negotiations that concluded last Thursday in Point Clear, Ala.

Lockheed's final contract offer included a wage package that provided guaranteed pay increases totaling 8.5 percent over the next three years, a $2,500 ratification bonus, and continuation of an annual cost of living adjustment.

In addition, the company offered an $11 increase in the monthly retirement benefit to $88 per month, per year of service, for current employees.

However, for new hires or re-hires on or after today, the company created an Hourly Capital Accumulation plan, or H-CAP account, with a guaranteed quarterly company contribution of $350 deposited into an employee's account for him or her to manage.

Rakestraw had said that the pension plan for new hires and the loss of heath care provider options were the union's primary points of contention among negotiators. The wage increases were the least of their concerns, she said.

Lockheed maintained that the package it offered represented an important step in remaining competitive in its industry.

At the union hall on South Marietta Parkway, union workers were asked to vote first on whether to accept or reject the contract. That vote required only a simple majority. They also voted on whether or not to strike, which required a two-third majority of the membership.

While he thought the proposed contract was "OK," Douglas Miller, 34, of Austell said earlier in the day that he voted against it and to strike mainly because he felt the contract was unfair to new hires.

"They're not letting them have the same benefits that we have," said Miller, an eight-year avionics technician veteran. "Down the line, when it comes time for us to retire, it's going to be those new guys voting on our retirement. We can screw with the new guys coming in."

Andy Dean, 51, of Ball Ground also said he rejected the contract and voted to strike. A 28-year company veteran who works as a firefighter, Dean said he was prepared to picket for as long as it took to get a fair deal for new hires.

"We shouldn't all be either poor or rich. We need a middle-class in this country," he said. "We're building the best product in the world."

Lockheed's Marietta facility works on the F-22 stealth fighter, F-35 fighter, C-130J Hercules, P-3 wings and the C-5 modification.

The Bethesda, Md.-based aerospace company reported $45.8 billion in sales in 2010.
Comments
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wonderin
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March 08, 2011
Givemeliberty, FYI a right-to-work state simply means a right to freeload off union members. These employees are by law union represented but do not have to participate in strikes or pay dues. They selfishly reap the benefits that the union members have to fight and pay for.
Repugnican
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March 08, 2011
Heres an idea. Is there any way Lockheed can be outsourced to China. Just imagine the savings to the tax payer, no unions, sick leave, vacations, insurance. A captive work force willing to work for thirty cents an hour and a bowl of rice. A C-130 could be built for a few thousand dollars instead of a few million and profits would skyrocket why should the defense industry be any different than WAL-Mart or any other American company. Lockheed should join into America's race to the bottom.
givemeliberty
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March 07, 2011
To Repugnican....employees do get an opportunity to vote on their employment every day by coming to work. The minute they no longer wish to vote affirmative they have every "right" to vote "no" by not coming to work and looking for employment elsewhere. The greatest thing about living in a "right to work" state is the employee has the right to not work where they don't want to work and the employer has the right to not hire anyone who doesn't want to work for that employer. As for Wal-Mart, it is undoubtedly America's greatest retail story because it has not and will not bow to the absurdity of collective bargaining. In not doing so Wal-Mart guarantees low prices, great depth of merchandise and millions of jobs for those Americans who wish to work for themselves and not a bunch of union thugs. If you are good at what you do, you don't need to hide behind the union. Your screen name says it all.....
Kend
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March 07, 2011
The $2500 signing bonus was a pretty good incentive to ratify. It would have been swept off the table completely if the union had had its way.
anonymous
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March 07, 2011
I am sure that the contract is not all bad and in some cases better than the private world, but I am glad it shows some thought and personal responsibility instead of everyone marching behind the local shop.
RightToWork
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March 07, 2011
Power to the people, not the union! The only people the unions are looking out for are those on the union payrole!

Way to go Lockheed employees, protest your jobs, not the unions!
Repugnican
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March 07, 2011
Gosh! shouldn't Lockheed-Martin simply have refused to negotiate, then tried to break the union and their evil collective bargaining. Since when do employees get to vote or a voice in the things that affect them. Everything is then on the table, cut wages, pensions, safety, health care, the sky's the limit. Without collective bargaining Lockheed-Martin could become another low wage Wal-Mart in a right-to-work state.
mk-
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March 07, 2011
What's the point in building more fighters for the war machine, while our enemy is walking right over our open borders?

Boy , Americans have had entirely too much aspertame & flouride!!
been there, done tha
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March 07, 2011
The Lockheed members should have followed the advice of their elected union leadership. Having been down that same road with AT&T, I learned that once you start giving in to management's line of bull it makes it nearly impossible to get it back. The employees at AT&T were led to believe that if they didn't make concessions the company would send the business elsewhere. They agreed, didn't stand up, lost more & more every contract, & the jobs went to Mexico anyway. The company had hung a big banner over the entrance with their favorite piece of propaganda that read "WORK PLACE OF THE FUTURE". It was hanging there when we walked out the last day. I guess they were right. So good luck to the employees at Lockheed as I think you've got rough times acomin'.
Defense fan
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March 07, 2011
Congratulations to the patriots at Lockheed Georgia. You've shown great wisdom and class, and you've shown your radical leadership that you have minds of your own and care about individualism. I'd proudly hire any one of you.
JiffyGeo-GA
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March 07, 2011
The union members were split over either the need to continue working during these economic down-times or giving preference to those people who are yet to be hired by the company. Both sides have valid arguments with strong emotions guiding both groups. However, stability seemed to be the prevailing mood on Sunday. Thanks to all the union member who participated, regardless of your preference.
future employee
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March 07, 2011
The new employees can and will negotiate for themselves and probably choose to do so on an individual basis without representation. Unions are on the way out.
Watcher...
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March 07, 2011
This is excellent news for Lockheed Employees and the Company.
Yay!!
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March 07, 2011
Good for the members and good for Lockheed!

'Bout time people stood up for THEMSELVES and didn't cowtow to what the union wanted.

This is a win-win.
Way to Go !
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March 07, 2011
The days of companies giving pensions are over, it is time for everyone to take responsibility for their own retirement. Way To Go Lockheed workers. This shows a lot of responsibility on your part, and if you just stick to the 'save for your future' mentality, you should be fine. And unions take notice......we are not dumb and will not follow all your orders.
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