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IAM begins strike

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Posted: Monday, April 28, 2014 10:22 am | Updated: 3:22 pm, Tue Apr 29, 2014.

The airways above the Wiregrass have been quiet this week due to a strike voted on by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Sunday night.

IAM Local Lodge 2003 consists of 3,100 members, of which a two-thirds majority voted to reject the contract offer made by L3 Communications.

The vote to reject the contract was followed by a vote to strike, which officially began at 12:01 a.m. Monday morning.

Currently, 2,900 members are on strike and have been picketing in shifts outside Fort Rucker's gates and airfields.

L3 Communications is the parent company of Army Fleet Support, which is a civilian company that provides maintenance support to Fort Rucker's aircraft.

According to a statement from IAM spokesperson Robert Wood, the strike is over issues regarding working conditions, benefits, eroding seniority rights and overtime procedures.

A lot of changes were made to this particular contract as opposed to contracts in the past that union members are unhappy with, he said.

"They've changed some things on how they handle overtime. There is a resentment out there because they've had some layoffs because of foreseeing some reduction in flight hours, and that hasn't happened, so you have fewer people but the workload remains the same," Wood said.

Wood said union members also have distrust in how the insurance was going to be handled and desire further clarification in the next proposal.

"The IAM is communicating with our membership, and is in contact with the company and Federal Mediation in order to build a path forward to resuming negotiations and solving problems and returning members to the mission at Fort Rucker," Wood said.

The Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service is a government entity that helps mediate labor problems.

"The federal mediator has no real power. They can't make the company or the union do anything, but they come in to try to solve these problems and they're very good in these situations to try and find a path forward to get to a negotiated settlement," Wood said.

The strike has a direct impact on flight training at Fort Rucker.

A statement from Fort Rucker said the maintenance support for Fort Rucker's entire fleet is performed pursuant to a contract with AFS.

"Fort Rucker is not party to the current labor dispute. The dispute is a matter between AFS and its employees. However, this dispute is impacting our ability to train aviators.

"Currently there are no changes to access control measures at the gates to the installation and no other impacts on Fort Rucker," the statement read.

Union members have said the group will remain on strike as long as it takes to get a resolution to the contract disputes.

Wood said no timeline has been established on when a new proposal would be brought forward.

"Some strikes end quickly and some take a long time. I've learned in my years to never try to predict anything. We'll work to see if we can come to a solution and out that back before out members again," he said.

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  • cv posted at 11:13 pm on Mon, Apr 28, 2014.

    cv Posts: 1

    Well you have to give them credit. It takes guts to strike in the middle of sequestration and big budget cuts. Thousands of military personnel are being forced to separate and these service members are not paid nearly as well for doing the same job. The union employees are striking over 1.5% raise?? This year the military got 1%. And let's remind the strikers that they don't have to deploy to Afghanistan every other year....do they really have it that bad?

    Maybe we should cut the contractors and keep more service members around.

    It's very sad to see the the Army can't continue its mission without AFS. You'd think these kinds of jobs should require more concern about safe maintenance and less about money. But then again that's why they are not Soldiers. But, they say it's not about the money.

    Why exactly are military operations dependent on unions? Please don't come back!

  • Republican posted at 12:26 pm on Mon, Apr 28, 2014.

    Republican Posts: 14

    This is a prime example of greed! As a former employee for many years out there these folks have the highest paid jobs in Alabama. The ones that voted to strike do not know how good they have it compared to what the majority of the wiregrass makes as far wages. I do not understand how you can vote to strike when you are getting a raise, more retirement, but you have to pay a little more in insurance? I bet there are many folks in the wiregrass that would love to have those jobs and be grateful for them.

  • Sandra DeTora posted at 11:11 am on Mon, Apr 28, 2014.

    Sandra DeTora Posts: 1

    "The contract offer consisted of a 5-year contract deal with a 1.5 percent raise in the first year followed by a 2.5-percent raise in the following four years."

    This article makes it sound like the pay increase was the only thing in the contract. The contract is quite long, and the employees have MANY problems with how it was written. We need to get the news out that the strike is NOT over pay. It is over how the company is going to treat its employees over the next five years.