IAM Sues NASA for Misconduct

Washington, D.C., August 13, 2007 – The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) today filed suit in the United States District Court in the District of Columbia against the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) for interfering in the negotiations for a new contract for almost 500 workers represented by IAM Local Lodge 2061 in Cape Canaveral, Florida. The IAM-represented employees provide launch services to NASA through the United Space Alliance (USA), a joint venture of Lockheed Martin and the Boeing Co. A copy of the complaint is available at www.goiam.org.

“NASA management is violating the law by attempting to dictate the terms of the economic package between the United Space Alliance and the IAM,” said IAM International President R. Thomas Buffenbarger. “That interference is a violation of the Service Contract Act and it has harmed the dedicated IAM workers who are a key part of America’s space program.”

The suit alleges that NASA violated its duty under the Service Contract Act and regulations implementing that act by telling the United Space Alliance that it would not reimburse USA for any increased labor costs in a new agreement with the IAM. Federal law requires NASA and other federal agencies to remain neutral in the collective bargaining process between federal contractors and the unions representing their employees.

Federal agencies are also required to reimburse federal contractors for labor cost increases if they are the result of bona fide collective bargaining. Federal agencies have an explicit mechanism for protesting any increase they deem excessive by requesting a review by the Department of Labor, which NASA tried to circumvent by direct intervention in negotiations.

“The IAM’s proposals have been reasonable and in line with other related contracts at NASA,” said IAM Southern Territory General Vice President Robert Martinez. “NASA intentionally undermined the negotiations process between United Space Alliance and the IAM by injecting itself into the negotiating process that should be solely between the IAM and the contractor.”

Negotiations between the IAM and USA began in mid-2007. The parties were unable to reach an agreement because of NASA’s interference and IAM-represented employees were forced on strike on June 14, 2007.

“Our goal in our negotiations with the United Space Alliance is to reach a fair and equitable settlement that will place our members and USA on the path to success in the future,” said District 166 Directing Business Representative Johnny Walker. “NASA’s misconduct made that almost impossible to do.” Walker has been asked to appear before the Science and Technology Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives, which has jurisdiction over NASA, to testify about issues concerning the workplace at the NASA facility at the Kennedy Space Center.