New Contractor at Red River Army Depot is Gutting Health Care

IAM members at Red River Army Depot near Texarkana, TX are fighting an attempt from the depot’s new primary contractor, VSE Corp., to drastically increase employee health care costs while reducing their benefits.

When a new contractor takes over at a government site, union employees are entitled to the same rates of pay and benefits they negotiated under the previous contractor. It’s the law, ever since Congress passed the Service Contract Act in 1965.

VSE Corp., which in May became the primary contractor for around 1,000 IAM members at Red River Army Depot near Texarkana, TX, might need a refresher.

“They’re breaking the law,” said IAM Southern Territory General Vice President Mark Blondin, “but we’re not going to let them get away with it.”

While negotiating a transition from the previous contractor with the IAM, VSE refused to divulge its health care costs. Then, after IAM members rejected VSE’s proposal, the company unilaterally enacted health coverage with higher employee costs and reduced benefits.

The shuffling even caused many IAM members at the depot to temporarily lose health insurance all together.

In a complaint filed with the National Labor Relations Board and the Department of Labor, the IAM asserts VSE is guilty of unfair bargaining and slashing healthcare benefits members received under the depot’s former primary contractor, AECOM.

“The workers at Red River Army Depot are hard-working Americans,” IAM Special Representative Bob Wood told the Texarkana Gazette. “All they want is what the law says they are due. Sadly, VSE seems determined to force upon them lesser benefits than those to which they are entitled. We should expect better from a government contractor receiving taxpayer money.”

Employees at the depot – welders, mechanics, machinists, painters, heavy equipment operators and more – maintain and repair armored vehicles for the U.S. military.

The NLRB says it is fast-tracking the IAM’s complaint.