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Two smaller unions agree deals with Lockheed
* Strike by larger machinsts union enters fifth week
* No talks scheduled
* Lockheed says operations continuing Lockheed Martin Corp said on Saturday it had negotiated new contracts with two smaller unions at its Fort Worth, Texas plant, even as a strike by the larger machinists union stretched into a fifth week.
Lockheed said about 70 members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) on Friday ratified a new contract that would extend for four years. On Saturday, a new five-year contract was approved by 430 members of the Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU).
Both agreements take effect on Monday.
Lockheed said the agreements would help the company continue its work on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the Pentagon's largest weapons program, the F-16 fighter and other programs.
The company said the contracts each included a $3,000 ratification bonus, general wage increases, cost of living adjustments and a 14 percent boost in future pension benefits.
The deals also include a defined contribution pension plan for new hire employees in lieu of a defined benefit pension plan, a retirement account similar to a 401(k).
That was one of the sticking points in Lockheed's talks with the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM), which represents 3,300 of 14,250 workers at the facility. It has been on strike since April 23.
The union also represents about 200 workers at Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Maryland and 150 at Edwards Air Force Base in California. Union and company officials said no negotiations were scheduled.
FIGHTER PROGRAM PRESSURES
The strike adds to pressures facing the $397 billion F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, restructured three times to cut costs and slow development to allow for more testing. The program has completed about 20 percent of the testing required.
Lockheed said production, finishing and testing of the F-35 warplane were continuing despite the strike.
Lockheed spokesman Joe Stout said the company had identified 3,400 salaried employees who could perform tasks done by the striking workers, if needed, but he declined to say how many of those employees had been activated since the strike began.
That is up from around 2,200 salaried workers who were ready to do the union workers' jobs at the start of the strike.
He said employees filling in on the production line were working 10-12 hour days, instead of an 8-hour shift. The plant was operating on one shift, instead of two, six days a week.
But he said the company was beginning to plan for resuming a second shift, if needed, to ensure that it was able to meet its commitments to the Pentagon and foreign buyers.
Since the strike began, Lockheed has delivered three short takeoff, vertical landing F-35B models to the Pentagon, and transferred three F-16 fighters for sale to Morocco, Stout said.
"We're not at full-scale operations, but we're continuing to deliver airplanes, we're continuing to move airplanes to the flight line," Stout said.
The IAM on Friday filed an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board over what it called "misleading and threatening mail" sent to striking workers.
The letter was sent to striking workers who have outstanding loans with an employee savings plan, which permits loans against employee savings. The letter explained the consequences of going into default, but did not mention a 12-month grace period that applies in the event of a strike, the union said on its website.
Lockheed said the letter was part of the normal process that occurs when an employee misses a normal payroll deduction payment and the grace period did not apply in this case.
"Employees on strike are not considered to be on a company-approved leave of absence and therefore the loans taken against their 401(k) accounts are governed by the IRS' retirement income tax guidelines," Stout said.
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