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.