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Saturday, December 15 , 2018, 6:04 am | Fair 41º

 
 
 
 

United Launch Alliance Union Workers Vote To Ratify Contract

Company urged Vandenberg AFB employees to approve pact, machinists’ negotiating committee declined to recommend

United Launch Alliance employees represented by the machinists union at Vandenberg Air Force Base and in Alabama and Florida narrowly voted Sunday to ratify the company’s final offer, which union leaders had said they couldn’t recommend.

Union officials said Sunday afternoon that 53 percent of the voters approve the contract, which becomes effective at 12:01 a.m. Monday. While workers at Vandenberg and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., voted in favor of the contract, the majority of the employees at ULA’s Decatur, Ala., manufacturing plant rejected it, according to a union Facebook post that later was removed.

The favorable vote means ULA and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers avoided a strike.

ULA had urged workers to approve the three-year contract.

“In the coming years, ULA will face several daunting challenges, including fierce competition for new launch opportunities, a government-mandated deadline for an American-made engine, and customer demands for a lower-cost rocket,” said Tory Bruno, president and chief executive officer. 

“ULA has a finite window to secure our place as the spaceflight partner of choice for the next generation of government and commercial customers.”

Bruno also appealed to employees’ own interests.

“We believe the proposed contract is fair, recognizes our world-class workforce, offers our IAM-represented employees a wage and benefit package that exceeds what can be found elsewhere in the communities where we live, and enables us to succeed and secure a future we can all be proud of,”  he said.

Noting “these were tough negotiations,” machinists union leaders said they fought hard for members’ priorities, particularly retirement and medical costs. However, ULA remained firm on freezing the pension plan in 2017, union officials added.

“There are good things and bad things in this offer,” union leaders said in a letter to members, urging them to read the union’s summary and discuss it with their families.

“The contract offer fell short of our expectations and what we wanted to bring back to our members. Therefore, your negotiating committee decided unanimously that we cannot recommend this contract. The final decision as ALWAYS, rests with you, our membership.”

Both sides opened contract negotiations in mid-April.

ULA officials said the proposed contract calls for: 

» A 7 percent cumulative pay hike over the term of the agreement

» $6,000 ratification agreement

» $850 lump sum payments annually for supplemental cost of living, three health care plans with ULA paying between 80 percent and 82 percent

» More related to pension and employer-matched savings plans.

Formed in 2006, ULA is a joint venture of Boeing and Lockheed Martin and, as of last fall, employs approximate 850 machinists union members, at Vandenberg and facilities in Decatur, Ala., and at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

Vandenberg and Florida are the launch sites for ULA’s Atlas and Delta families of rockets while Decatur is home to the manufacturing plant for the company, which has its headquarters in Centennial, Colo.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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