Machinists say they’re united for talks at Triumph

TriumphASPOKANE — Machinists Union members who work for Triumph Composites in Spokane say they’re united and strong as contract talks with their employer enter their second week.

“The members have stepped up beside the IAM leadership and are looking for a fair and reasonable contact proposal addressing their issues,” said Rick Olson, who works at Triumph and is president of Machinists Union Local Lodge 86 in Spokane. “I hear that loud and clear every day.”

Talks on a new collective bargaining agreement for more than 450 hourly workers at Triumph began on April 20. Their current agreement runs out on May 10.

TriumphBWorkers held solidarity marches during their meal breaks on April 22, and attended a series of rallies and briefings with members of their negotiating teams on April 27.

“The sight of all the green shirts marching out together was inspiring,” said Jerry Purser, a Triumph worker who is on the union negotiating team. “The floor is united and strong like never before.”

The aerospace workers say they’re unhappy with concessions they were forced to take in 2013, which led to the elimination of pension benefits for workers hired since then and the creation of a two-tier wage system that pays some workers 12.5 percent less than others doing the same job.

Others said they’re unhappy with short staffing at the plant, which results in them having to work enormous amounts of overtime to meet the high demand for the aircraft parts they produce. Many report they’re having health issues from being overworked.

“Triumph has failed to abide by its own core values for the last three years,” Olson said. “They have created a culture of disdain.”

The Triumph workers are specialists in fabricating composite components for aircraft interiors, including floor panels and ducts for environmental control systems. They produce more than 10,000 environmental control system, flight deck and composite interiors assemblies and 9,000 floor panel assemblies each month.

The Boeing Co. opened the plant in 1990, but sold it to Triumph in 2003.

Originally formed in 1935 by hourly workers at Boeing, District Lodge 751 of the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers now represents more than 32,000 working men and women at 53 employers across Washington and California. In Eastern Washington, members are served by a network of local lodges that includes Local 86 in Spokane, Machinists Union Local Lodge 1123 in Coulee City and Machinists Union Local Lodge 1951 in Richland.

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