Union accepts 5-year pact

Middle River workers take company offer rejected not long ago


November 20, 1999|By Greg Schneider | Greg Schneider,SUN STAFF

Workers at Middle River Aircraft Systems have approved a five-year labor contract, averting a strike by reversing an earlier vote against the pact.

Members of Local 738 of the United Aerospace Workers union voted 402-141 in favor of the contract Thursday. The agreement is the same one employees rejected by a vote of 320-108 less than two weeks before.

"I guess people had a change of heart," said Pat Feehley, president of the local. "They realized it wasn't as bad as they thought it was."

The union had set 11: 59 p.m. Thursday as a strike deadline, and some members were fearful of a work stoppage because the company said it had made its final offer.

In the end, the workers realized that the company was not going to budge, union officials said. "We tried to explain that to people the first time around, but I guess they thought something else was out there," Feehley said.

The contract they approved contained a 3 percent pay raise in the second and fourth years; 3 percent lump-sum payments in the first and fourth years; and a 4 percent lump sum in the fifth year.

"Obviously, MRAS is pleased at the union's decision to accept this contract," plant General Manager Ray Roquemore said. "With the security that this agreement brings, we can continue to work toward our shared goals of growth and prosperity."

Local 738 represents about 600 hourly workers at Middle River Aircraft Systems, which employs about 1,100 overall.

MRAS makes a variety of aircraft parts, from thrust reversers for jet engines to composite and metal components for Boeing jetliners and several types of military craft.

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