Machinists out on picket line at Triumph Composites
SPOKANE – Machinists Union members have begun picketing against Triumph Composite Systems.
Workers were locked out by management prior to the expiration of their collective bargaining agreement. A strike had been expected to start at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, May 11.
The 403 union workers are united in their determination to reverse Triumph pay and benefit cuts that are undermining their families and their communities, said Jon Holden, the president of Machinists Union District Lodge 751.
“It’s not easy to vote to go on strike,” Holden said. “But your solidarity inspires me. It’s amazing.”
The union said the breakdown in contract talks, which led to the strike authorization vote, is largely the result of Triumph’s of bad-faith bargaining. It has asked for a federal investigation into its claims that Triumph tried to intimidate and coerce workers, while also conducting direct dealing and failing to provide information to the union as required under the National Labor Relations Act.
The union workers had “reasonable goals” when negotiations started in April, Holden said: “We wanted to return to everyone having pensions, and we wanted to return to everyone being paid the same wage for the same work – just like we had prior to 2013.”
Instead, Triumph negotiators proposed a contract that would solidify the two-tier wage system, withhold general wage increases for most workers and actually reduce retirement benefits by cutting 401(k) matches for workers hired since 2013. In addition, the company proposed contract language that would allow it to make unlimited increases in health care costs starting in 2018.
“You guys sent a strong united message,” Holden told the Machinists at Triumph. “I have never seen a contract rejected so resoundingly.”
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, which are used on Boeing 737, 747, 777 and 787 airliners, Airbus A350s and Gulfstream G650 business jets.
They are the only providers of key components to the 737, 767 and 777 programs at Boeing.
Holden said his desire is for Triumph to “come back to the table with an offer that respects the hard work our members do and the skills they have.”
But until then, the Machinists at Triumph will have the support of all 33,000 District 751 members across Washington state, he said.
“We absolutely will support our brothers and sisters at Triumph,” Holden said. “We will see to it that they have the resources they need to win a better contract with their employer, for however long that takes.”
Originally formed in 1935 by hourly workers at Boeing, District Lodge 751 of the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers now represents some 33,000 working men and women at 53 employers. In Eastern Washington, they are represented by a network of local lodges that includes Machinists Union Local Lodge 86 in Spokane, Machinists Union Local Lodge 1123 in Coulee City and Machinists Union Local Lodge 1951 in Richland.