Aerospace workers strike at United Launch Alliance
11 May 2018
After 21 days of negotiations, nearly 600 aerospace workers organized in the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) have struck United Launch Alliance (ULA) worksites in Decatur, Alabama, in Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, and at Cape Canaveral in Florida on Monday, May 7. The walkout occurred immediately after workers voted down what ULA called its “last and final offer” the day before.
ULA, a joint operation created by aerospace giants Lockheed and Boeing, launches Delta and Atlas rockets into space for NASA, the military, and private enterprises. The launch operator, headquartered in Centennial, Colorado, employs 300 workers at the Decatur site where the rockets are assembled, 225 at the Cape Canaveral facility, and 75 at Vandenberg. The company is demanding that its hourly employees make increased contributions to their health care benefits and pensions. ULA is offering insulting wage increases of 1.5 percent for the first year of the contract, 1.75 percent for the second year, and only 2 percent for the third year. Management offered a $6,000 bonus as a bribe if the contract was approved before May 7.
Under the old contract, when rockets were launched from Vandenberg, ULA would ask for volunteers from the Florida work force to travel to California to assist in launches. The previous contract stipulated that employees could not be required to stay there for more than 30 days. ULA is now stating that Florida-based workers can be forced to travel to Vandenberg, remain there for 30 days, travel back to Florida for two days, and then be required to travel back to the California launch site for another 30-day stint. ULA now wants to use Decatur…