(June 2, 2016) — Machinists Union District Lodge 751 posted the following update Wednesday as the labor dispute at Triumph Composite Systems in Spokane concluded its third week:
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 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, Robert Martinez, the international president of the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers, recorded the following 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. 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&AW.
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.
District 751 has created a text-to-donate site that will allow union members and people in the community to support Machinists Union members who have been locked out at Triumph.
To donate, simply text “STRIKE” to 91999, or click on this link to go to a web site. All contributions will be used to support locked-out workers and their families.
“Our members at Triumph are fighting for fair wages, retirement security and reasonably priced health care coverage, and to maintain jobs here in Spokane, rather than see them move to Mexico,” Holden said. “Our fight in Spokane is really a fight on behalf of working families and communities everywhere, who have suffered from decades of corporate greed.
“The front line of this battle runs through Spokane,” he concluded. “Please help us win the fight for America’s Middle Class by texting ‘STRIKE’ to 91999. Together, We Will Triumph.”
Originally formed in 1935 by hourly workers at the Boeing Co., District Lodge 751 of the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers now represents some 33,000 working men and women at 53 employers across Washington and California. In Eastern Washington, they are represented by a network of local lodges that includes Machinists Union Local Lodge 86 in Spokane, Machinists Union Local Lodge 1123 in Coulee City and Machinists Union Local Lodge 1951 in Richland.
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