Members of the Machinists union will go on strike after midnight Tuesday at Triumph Composites Systems of Spokane, a major aerospace industry supplier to Boeing, Airbus and Bombardier. Management says it will continue production with outside contractors.
Members of the Machinists union at Triumph Composites Systems of Spokane, a major supplier to Boeing, Airbus and Bombardier, will strike after midnight Tuesday.
The company’s 400 union employees overwhelmingly rejected a final contract offer from the company in a vote Monday. Triumph said it will use managers and temporary workers to maintain production.
The Spokane facility, part of Boeing’s in-house fabrication division before it was sold to Triumph in 2002, produces composite parts for aircraft.
It is Boeing’s sole supplier of environmental control system ducts and nonstructural composite flight deck components for all the jet-maker’s airplanes, as well as floor panels for the 737, 767 and 777.
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Boeing spokeswoman Jessica Kowal said the plane maker does not anticipate any immediate impact to production at its Puget Sound-area jet assembly plants.
“We have a strong inventory of these parts, and we are working with Triumph on alternative plans they have to produce them” Kowal said.
Triumph spokeswoman Lynne Warne said Tuesday that management plans to maintain operations “for the duration of any work stoppage without any expected disruption.”
Its plan includes “hiring contractors from outside the company to support ongoing operations.”
Members of the International Association of Machinists (IAM) on Monday night rejected a proposed three-year contract from the company by 94 percent and approved a strike by 93 percent.
Workers at the plant produce more than 10,000 environmental control system ducts, flight deck and composite interiors assemblies and 9,000 floor panel assemblies each month.
In Spokane on Tuesday, IAM District Lodge 751 President Jon Holden, who led negotiations for the union and had recommended the strike to his members, said he was overseeing training of strike pickets and “working on the logistics of running a strike for the long term.”
He predicted Triumph will not be able to continue operations at current levels with replacement workers.
“Our members are highly trained, skilled and very efficient,” Holden said. “Triumph won’t be able to do it without disruption.”
The union said its goal in the negotiations was to roll back two concessions made in 2013.
“Our members wanted us to negotiate a contract that restored pensions to all hourly workers at Triumph and eliminated the two-tier wage scheme that pays some workers thousands of dollars a year less than others who do the same work,” Holden said in a statement after the vote count Monday night.
The management proposal did not restore pension benefits. And while it would have raised wages for employees on the lower wage tier by a total of 3.5 percent over the three years of the contract, it offered no wage increases to other workers and left the employees on the lower tier still lagging their peers.
Holden called the contract offer “divisive.”
Triumph Group, headquartered in Berwyn, Penn., with facilities in 70 locations worldwide, has successively acquired many different aerospace parts and systems businesses and is currently restructuring to cut costs drastically.
Last week, the company announced an after-tax annual loss of $1.04 billion after large write-offs related to the Bombardier Global 7000/8000 business jet and also the Boeing 747-8 production slowdown.
New Chief Executive Daniel Crowley said Triumph will consolidate its Aerostructures businesses, closing or combining five facilities in the next year and five more the year after, and cutting about 1,200 jobs this year, or about 8 percent of its workforce.
The IAM’s Holden said his members aren’t worried the Spokane plant will close because it “has been a profitable facility for Triumph.”
“This is an efficient, skilled workforce that has made profits for Triumph,” he said. “They are protecting these jobs for their community and for their future.”