ULA, machinists workers union agree on new contract
The dispute between United Launch Alliance (ULA) and employees that are members of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) has ended as of Saturday, May 19, 2018.
Members of the IAM accepted a new four-year contract offer put forth by ULA, ending the union’s nearly two-week strike that began on May 7. The nearly 600 employees who are part of the machinists union in three locations—Cape Canaveral, Florida; Decatur, Alabama; and Vandenberg Air Force Base located in California—are expected to return to work on Monday, May 21.
“We are pleased that the IAM represented employees have ratified this agreement that is so critical to continuing ULA’s success,” Tory Bruno, ULA president and CEO, said in a company-issued statement. “The represented employees’ contributions have propelled ULA forward in delivering critical capabilities for our nation and our customers. Our employees build the best, most reliable rockets flying today and the missions we launch save lives, explore the universe, connect the world and help humankind unlock its potential in space.”
The dispute stemmed from a contract ULA called its “last, best, and final offer.” IAM members voted against it May 6, stating they objected to several elements of the contract, in particular the mandatory long-term, long-distance travel with little notice; mandatory overtime with notice; and a lack of respect for seniority. ULA said that contract was an above-market offer and provided pay and benefit increases.
Once the strike began, ULA and IAM opened a second round of negotiations with the assistance of federal mediators from the National Labor Relations Board on May 15. The union negotiating committee recommended that members accept the contract on May 16, and the union members voted to accept it on May 19.
“We believe this contract will help secure our place as the go-to provider for launching people and one-of-a-kind payloads into space well into the future,” Bruno said. “We are excited and proud to work alongside an engaged team that is setting the standard for innovation and excellence in the space industry.”
ULA builds and launches Atlas V and Delta IV rockets and is working to develop a new launch vehicle – Vulcan. It’s next scheduled flight is slated to be on July 31, 2018, when a Delta IV Heavy is slated to launch from Cape Canaveral to send NASA’s Parker Solar Probe into space. The company said it expects no disruption to its launch schedule from the strike.
Christopher Paul has had a lifelong interest in spaceflight. He began writing about his interest in the Florida Tech Crimson. His primary areas of interest are in historical space systems and present and past planetary exploration missions. He lives in Kissimmee, Florida, and also enjoys cooking and photography. Paul saw his first Space Shuttle launch in 2005 when he moved to central Florida to attend classes at the Florida Institute of Technology, studying space science, and has closely followed the space program since. Paul is especially interested in the renewed effort to land crewed missions on the Moon and to establish a permanent human presence there. He has covered several launches from NASA's Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral for space blogs before joining SpaceFlight Insider in mid-2017.