USAir resumes all operations at BWI after strike Machinists ratified new pact Saturday

October 13, 1992|By Suzanne Wooton | Suzanne Wooton,Staff Writer

USAir resumed normal operations yesterday at Baltimore-Washington International Airport and elsewhere as groundworkers returned to their jobs after ratifying a new contract.

Last week's strike against USAir by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers forced the financially troubled airline to cancel one-third of its 2,712 daily jet departures nationwide.

Negotiators for the Machinists union and USAir, the largest carrier at BWI, reached a tentative agreement Thursday, ending a four-day walkout. By Saturday, Machinists nationwide had ratified the three-year contract.

According to Linda Greene, a spokeswoman at BWI, the airline began adding some jet flights to its schedule Sunday and was expected to operate all 90 jet departures from the airport yesterday.

None of the airline's 2,000 commuter and express flights -- including 110 at BWI -- was affected by the walkout.

The new Machinists contract calls for a one-year pay cut of 3.5 percent but prevents the airline from hiring non-union workers to some jobs, including de-icing planes, that Machinists currently perform.

In addition, the groundworkers begin paying part of their health benefits.

USAir, which has lost more than $675 million during the past two years, has been seeking concessions from all its workers. It is currently negotiating with its flight attendants.

While Machinists were ready to accept pay cuts, they balked at work-rule changes, insisting the changes would have meant job losses.

Under the new contract, lower-paid union workers would be allowed to perform some jobs currently done by mechanics who earn $12 to $21 an hour. But those jobs will remain under union contract, according to IAM officials.

"I don't think our members were very excited about the contract, but it was the best we could do for the time being," said Winston A.Rubie, president of Local 846 of the Machinists union, which represents the 168 groundworkers at BWI.

But, Mr. Rubie said, a lengthy strike would have been devastating for the company as well as the workers.

"A prolonged strike would have killed the company," he said. "We obviously didn't want to do that."

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