Worth the Wait: Kentucky Blue Grass Local 219 Members Ratify Strong Contract

The hardworking men and women who help accomplish the mission of Kentucky’s Blue Grass Station finally got the contract—and the willing negotiating partner—they have been waiting on.

Approximately 150 IAM Local 219 (District 1888) members who work in shipping at the receiving at the base recently ratified a strong new contract with Tunista Logistics Solutions. The three-year accord includes 15% pay increases, a quadrupling of company pension contributions, health and welfare plan improvements, the elimination of a two-tier pay structure, and better vacation accrual.

It took only two-and-a-half days for these Service Contract Act members to negotiate the landmark deal with Tunista, an Alaska Native Corporation that only recently took over the contract at Blue Grass.

“Our negotiating committee and Tunista came to the table with the mindset of a working relationship,” said IAM District 1888 Business Representative and Organizer Ryan McCarthy. “Our members finally got the contract they deserve.”The deal is even sweeter given the experience of Local 219 members with previous contractors.Since members organized into the IAM in 2012, they have withstood prior contractor management that has fought them tooth and nail.

“We’ve come a long way on these contracts. These wages take our members to the next level,” said IAM Local 219 Chief Steward Bryan Martin. “We know the importance of the work we’re doing and who we’re serving. All of us have family members who served and everyone takes pride in it.”

After difficult first contract negotiations, Local 219 went on strike for six months during its second contract negotiations, holding the picket line through storms, snow and bitter cold. Members had to fight for a second contractor simply to abide by the existing contract, and the IAM was successful in labor board charges against the company.

“All we ever asked for was a company willing to negotiate in good faith and has respect for its employees,” said IAM Local 219 member Bobby Goodpaster. “These contract negotiations have been one of the most rewarding experiences that I have ever encountered in my entire working career.”

Local 219 members at the Bluegrass Station are a critical part of the base’s operations, including supporting the Special Forces.

“They call us the ‘Fighting Machinists’ because the IAM and our membership never give up on the contract our members deserve,” said IAM Southern Territory General Vice President Rickey Wallace. “I can’t say enough about the dedication of this negotiating committee and Brother McCarthy on their mission to achieve a great contract.”

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