Machinists with JBLM contractor sanction strike

JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD — Machinists Union members who work for URS Corp. at Joint Base Lewis-McChord have overwhelmingly approved a strike sanction vote.

The strike sanction was approved with a 95-percent “yes” vote, the union said.

The vote does not mean that a strike is imminent. However, it does show that the union’s membership is solidly behind their negotiating team, which strengthens their hand at the bargaining table.

The union represents more than 350 workers at URS who repair military helicopters and do site maintenance at JBLM. They voted to join Machinists Union District Lodge 751 in December.

Negotiations on a first contract began in June. Workers said their priorities are improved pay, benefits and paid time off.

In May, URS reported its first-quarter profits had jumped 28 percent, compared to the same period the year before. Revenues from URS’s federal contract sector – which includes the JBLM workers – “were particularly strong,” CEO Martin Koffel said.

In 2010, more than 220 URS employees working at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station also voted to join District 751. They ratified their first contract in July 2011, which granted them wage increases, a pension and also sick leave, which they didn’t have before.

Originally formed in 1935 to represent hourly workers at the Boeing Co., District Lodge 751 of the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers now represents some 32,000 working men and women at 48 employers across Washington, Oregon and California. In 2011, District 751 members ratified a four-year contract extension with Boeing that ensured the 737 MAX will be built in Puget Sound.

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