Federal mediators in Nashville, TN, met separately for several hours on Wednesday with representatives of Vought Aircraft Industries and IAM Local 735 before determining that Vought was not prepared to address pensions, the key issue in the seven week-old strike.
Members of Local 735 voted overwhelmingly in September to strike Vought rather than accept a company proposal that would eliminate all employees with less than 16 years from the traditional defined benefit pension plan. The company proposed a two-tier retirement system, one that would eventually eliminate the defined benefit plan entirely.
“This strike was triggered when Vought tried to walk away from its pension obligations,” said Local Lodge 735 President Mike Worrell. “It will be resolved only when Vought responds to the very legitimate concerns of its workforce.”
While the position of the company was not a surprise, IAM negotiators were stunned to learn that company representatives arrived at the meeting accompanied by armed guards who remained in the room while the company met with mediators.
“This was certainly an insult to the workers at Vought, who have conducted a peaceful strike in the face of outrageous tactics by Vought management, including the use of strikebreakers,” said Worrell. “This shows a complete lack of respect for their workers who have given years of loyal service to this company.”
While Vought representatives were busy alienating themselves from their workforce, participants at the International Metalworkers’ Conference in Hamburg, Germany, were voting unanimously to support the IAM and members of Local 735 in their fight for fair wages and benefits. “Union representatives from Airbus and its suppliers at this meeting stand with the IAM in its fight for fair wages and benefits at Vought and call on the Company to return to the bargaining table for an immediate and satisfactory resolution of this dispute,” said the IMF resolution.
Additional information about the strike is available at www.iam735.blogspot.com.