Lockheed workers to vote Thursday on new contract
By Andrea Shalal-Esa
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Striking workers from the Fort Worth, Texas, plant where Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N: Quote) builds F-16 and F-35 fighter planes will vote on Thursday on whether to accept a new contract agreed to by a key union and management late Saturday, the union said.
The modified contract, posted on the union's website, would give union members wage increases of 2.5 to 3 percent in each of the next four years, a lump sum payment of $2,000, and an additional $1,600 in cash to pay for inflation.
The contract would boost pension benefits for current employees, but would shift future workers to a 401(k)-type pension system - something the union had fought hard to avoid. Most other Lockheed units have already moved to the new pension plans.
The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers union, whose 3,600-plus members have been on strike for nine weeks, has scheduled a vote for 11 a.m. CDT (1600 GMT) on Thursday at the historic North Side Coliseum in Fort Worth, a top union official said.
The union, known as the IAM, represents Lockheed employees at the Texas plant, at Edwards Air Force Base in California, and at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland. All those workers will vote on the contract at the same time.
Lockheed, the Pentagon's No. 1 supplier by sales, announced early Sunday that it had reached a tentative deal on a revised labor contract with the union's bargaining committee during meetings Wednesday through Saturday facilitated by the U.S. Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service.
The union said it recommended members accept Lockheed's modified "last, best and final offer" after four days of "grueling" talks with Lockheed. It said the federal mediator told union negotiators this was "absolutely the best offer" the union could obtain from Lockheed at this time.
"Our strike has gone on for nine weeks, and our membership has stood strong, far stronger than anyone imagined," the union said on its website, adding that it believed "this is the very best contract proposal that we can bring to you without a much longer work stoppage with an uncertain outcome." Continued...