Lockheed Martin workers await pact One-third of force at Middle River plant work without contract

December 10, 1996|By Greg Schneider | Greg Schneider,SUN STAFF

About a third of the 900 employees at Lockheed Martin's Middle River facility are working without a contract as their union jockeys with the company for a new labor agreement.

The two sides will meet again next month, and an official with Local 738 of the United Auto Workers says its 300 members, who are production workers at Middle River, are prepared to go on strike if negotiations fall through.

Another 1,200 or so workers at Lockheed Martin Corp. facilities in Denver and Orlando, Fla., are also involved in the negotiations, and likewise are working without a contract.

The UAW contract expired Nov. 10, the same day union members rejected the company's proposed new agreement, with an overwhelming 96 percent vote against it. Representatives of Lockheed Martin met with bargainers from the international union last week in Las Vegas.

"From Lockheed Martin's standpoint, we found those meetings very helpful and productive, and we're anticipating that the union will offer a counterproposal in the very near future," company spokesman Charles Manor said yesterday at headquarters in Bethesda.

Manor declined to release any details of the negotiations. Local 738 President Nellie Butler-Grinage said workers turned down the company's initial proposal, objecting to the size of cost-of-living raises, the payments for health benefits, and guidelines for holidays and for retirement benefits.

"Three years ago, when we had our last contract, the company said it was hurting and if we would suspend our cost of living [adjustment], we would get it on our next one," said one worker who asked not to be identified.

"Now there are all these articles on how well they're doing" and the workers aren't sharing the rewards, the worker said.

The Middle River facility, which was headquarters to the Glenn L. Martin aviation company for the middle part of the century, was rumored to be a shutdown candidate as recently as last year when Martin Marietta Corp. merged with Lockheed.

The plant's major business is in thrust reversers for commercial airplanes and in missile-launching systems for Navy vessels.

Middle River has not seen a strike in recent history. "I would characterize that relationship over the years as very respectful and harmonious," Manor said.

Pub Date: 12/10/96

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