Union Strike at Kennedy Space Center?


"A union representing about 570 United Space Alliance space shuttle program workers at Kennedy Space Center is recommending that the workers vote today to authorize a strike," Florida Today reports:

The bargaining team for the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Local 2061 believes that the company’s latest contract offer is "substandard," in relation to contracts at other aerospace companies, according to Lynn Beattie, a member of the bargaining team and former Local 2061 president.

He said the company’s proposals related to health care and retirement benefits are among the provisions the union doesn’t like.

The company and union were negotiating into the evening Friday before talks ended. Beattie said the union would present members with the company’s latest offer this morning.

If Local 2061 members turn down the contract, both sides still have a chance to resolve the situation during a five-day "cooling-off "period, Beattie said. If that is not successful, the workers could go out on strike as early as the end of next week, he said.

The IAM website urges its visitors to "keep the pressure on." Negotiations opened on May 21st, and have focused on job security and retirement concerns "in the wake of plans by NASA to shift from the current Space Shuttle program to next generation Ares/Orion systems." The  United Space Alliance is a joint venture of The Boeing Company and Lockheed Martin, and is contracted as NASA’s main provider of services for the space shuttle program through 2010.

A strike, if voted upon, would not have an impact on the shuttle Atlantis launch scheduled for this Friday, because the Local 2061 workers’ jobs are not directly related to launches, according to a USA spokesperson.