On Strike, union members voice contract concerns

Members of Lockheed Martin’s Machinists Local 776 union voted to reject Lockheed’s final contract proposal and to strike this week. Workers who we talked to on the picket lines stated over and over their opposition to company proposals that would eliminate a defined benefit pension plan for new hires and a health care plan that features higher employee deductibles and co-payments.

Union workers picket in front of Lockheed

“My parents worked here and retired from here because of a good pension plan,” said one striker who remained anonymous. “I work here now and someday one of my children may work here. I want them to have the same benefits.”

This is the fifth time the union has gone on strike. Previous events were in 1946, 1984, 2000, and 2004. The longest strike lasted three weeks and the union is expecting a longer one this time.

The union represents about 3,600 workers at the west Fort Worth Lockheed plant that do most of the aircraft assembly and manufacturing work on the F-35 and F-16 fighter jets or service the machines and facilities.

Key details of the proposed contract

Three annual 3 percent wage increases. The first-year wage scale under the proposal would run from $10.06 per hour for the least experienced, least skilled positions to $34.59 per hour at the top end.

A contract ratification bonus of $3,000.

An $800 annual cost-of-living lump sum payment.

The pension multiplier would increase from $79 to $90 per year of service for current employees.

New hires and rehired employees would be put in a defined contribution savings plan with guaranteed quarterly payments of $350 by the company.

The Aetna HMO would be retained, with employees paying 13 percent of premiums. There would be no cap on annual premium contribution increases, unlike in the current plan.

The company would replace existing preferred provider health plans with LM Health Works, which emphasizes wellness and prevention benefits.