The two sides in the Sikorsky factory strike are no closer to resolving their differences after nearly a week of tense picketing. About 3,600 production workers at Sikorsky factories in Connecticut and Florida walked out last Monday, blaming a contract proposal that would force them to pay more for medical benefits.
The workers, largely comprising hourly paid mechanics and assembly fitters, began picketing factory gates early Monday morning, after the existing contract expired at midnight last Sunday. Blasting proposed sharp increases for prescription drug costs and doctor visit copays, the Teamsters union recommended that the workers reject the company’s new offer, which they did by a margin of almost two to one.
As the strikers prepare for a second week of picketing, a Sikorsky spokesman said the company has a plan to keep the production lines running.
“There are plenty of people at Sikorsky to make our aircraft,” said Bud Greeby, a company vice president. “Many of these are former line workers who are now supervisors.”
A federal mediator was trying to bring the two parties together for talks at press time, but he said he could not predict when negotiations might start. A spokesman for the federal mediation and conciliation board said the agency had tried “at least eight times” to do that before the strike.
The OEM employs about 9,500 workers in Connecticut, including 3,500 Teamsters and 6,000 salaried workers. Ninety non-salaried workers are affected at Sikorsky’s plant in West Palm Beach, Fla.