Spokane’s Triumph Continues Lockout of District 751 Members

IAM District 751, Local 86 members have been locked out by the employer, Triumph Composite Systems in Spokane, WA, since May 10.

IAM District 751 reports there have been no talks between the union and Triumph Composite Systems in Spokane since May 9.

On that date, union members voted by 94 percent to reject the company’s “last and final” contract offer. After the votes were counted, IAM 751 President Jon Holden called Triumph Composites General Manager Pat Jones to inform him of the vote count and to offer to continue negotiations “anywhere at any time.”

Triumph Composite Systems has received nearly $800,000 in tax breaks from Washington state in the last two years.

Triumph responded on May 10 by sending second-shift workers home early and blocking third-shift workers from coming to work. That was the start of the current lockout.

Previously, on May 5, the union’s negotiating committee had asked for talks to continue, after receiving Triumph’s “last and final” offer. The company refused, which led to District 751 filing an Unfair Labor Practice complaint with the National Labor Relations Board, because the company had stopped negotiations prematurely, before the two sides had reached an impasse.

On May 19, Bob Martinez, IAM’s international president, recorded a video message in front of Triumph’s main gate.

“I want to send a direct message to the CEO of the Triumph Group, Dan Crowley, and his board of directors, to get back to the table, sit down and negotiate a fair contract that our members deserve and that you owe them,” said Martinez. “We’re looking forward to seeing you at the table.”

Triumph management has not responded to either Holden’s or Martinez’s requests.

Union members at Triumph will start receiving financial assistance this week, in the form of “strike checks” issued by the IAM.

In addition, District 751’s governing council on May 24 voted to allocate financial resources for the locked-out workers. The money is to be spent on food for workers walking picket lines and to provide for a hardship fund to help with families’ emergency expenses.

In the past week, other labor groups – including the Washington State Labor Council, Spokane Regional Labor Council, National Association of Letter Carriers Branch 442, Steelworkers Local 338, United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1439 and Washington State Nurses Association members who work at Sacred Heart Medical Center — have also donated cash, food and manpower to support the picket lines.

“We very much appreciate the support,” said Holden. “We’re fighting on behalf of everyone in Spokane, because every dollar Triumph takes away from our members is a dollar that doesn’t get spent at a local business, and a dollar that can’t go to support local services like good roads, schools or safe drinking water.”

Union staffers have been working with the locked-out Machinists to help them find temporary jobs to carry them through the labor dispute.

The union continues to file Unfair Labor Practice complaints with the National Labor Relations Board, which is investigating whether Triumph management has broken federal law.

The union alleges that Triumph broke the law by:
Attempting to intimidate and coerce workers during negotiations;
Dealing with workers directly, instead of through their union representatives;
Failing to provide information the union representatives need to bargain and have a right to see under the law.

“We believe the NLRB will find merit in our charges and will go ahead with legal proceedings against Triumph,” Holden said.

Follow the lockout as it develops at the IAM Eastern Washington Facebook page.

This story has been re-printed with minor edits from the IAM District 751 blog.