Machinist union recommends strike at Triumph over contract offer
By Alwyn Scott SEATTLE (Reuters) – The union representing machinists at a Triumph Group Inc factory in Washington state has scheduled a strike vote for Monday and is recommending that its 400 members reject the aerospace supplier’s latest contract offer and walk off the job.
A walkout by the machinists at Triumph Composite Systems in Spokane, Washington, would affect fabrication of parts such as floor panels and ducting used in Boeing Co and Airbus planes, potentially affecting aircraft production, the union said. “We are recommending our members reject the contract and vote to strike,” Jon Holden, president of the International Association of Machinists District 751, said on Friday. Boeing and Airbus are building planes at a record pace and have taken steps to reduce the risk that suppliers will fail to get parts to their factories on time, since supply disruptions could affect their own production, as has happened with late delivery of seats. It was not immediately clear whether Triumph had alternative sites or workers it could call upon if the machinists put down their tools. Holden said the company had recently moved some work to facilities in Mexico. Triumph shares fell 1.1 percent to close at $35.44 on the New York Stock Exchange. Triumph did not respond to requests for comment. Boeing and Airbus declined to comment. If the members reject the contract and approve a strike, the walkout would begin Wednesday, Holden said, noting the three-year contract expires at midnight on Tuesday. A vote of 50 percent plus one is needed approve or reject the contract. Two-thirds of members must vote for a strike for it to take effect, Holden said. Workers will vote on both questions on the same ballot at the union hall in Spokane on Monday, he said. When the current contract was approved three years ago, workers also voted to reject it but were a few votes short of the number needed to strike, the union said. Holden said the last contract eliminated pensions for new employees and introduced a two-tier wage system. The union sought to undo those measures in the latest contract, but the changes were not included in the final offer the company put on the table on Thursday, he said. Holden said union members were unhappy with the last contract and that 98.7 percent voted “yes” in March on a ballot to authorize a strike vote. (Reporting by Alwyn Scott; Editing by Steve Orlofsky and Matthew Lewis)