Sikorsky, union workers ready for a lengthy strike

 - September 21, 2006, 7:44 AM

Late last month Sikorsky said it remained “open for business” as a strike by production workers entered its second month. At press time the Teamsters union members had rejected a revised offer from management.

The OEM said it was “disappointed” that the union did not accept what it called “a fair and generous offer. The union continues to reject the health-care plan that covers all of Sikorsky’s other Connecticut hourly and salary employees.” A Teamsters union spokesman said that the new proposals were a “warmed-over version” of the company’s original plan that its members had “overwhelmingly” rejected.

The latest union proposal was a response to a revised union offer that “significantly increased” costs to the company. The Sikorsky plan included wage increases, cash bonuses, an increase in pension benefits and a cash-balance pension increase. However, in return, it wants to introduce a voluntary severance program affecting up to 200 employees.

Before the most recent talks, the company had started hiring temporary workers and was threatening to move some operations out of state. A spokesman said that the hirings were not permanent but added “[we are] prepared to do so should we get to that point.” Local Teamsters president Harvey Jackson countered that the company needed the striking workers to build its helicopters and remained confident that the state’s congressional delegation would not tolerate a relocation of work out of state.

Sikorsky wants to double workers’ contributions to their health insurance in the first year of the three-year deal and add another 15 percent over the subsequent two years. Under the most recent contract, the workers paid about $26 per week for family coverage; this could increase to nearly $60 under the new deal.

Pino Takes Handoff from Finger

Sikorsky president Steve Finger is moving to take the lead at sister company Pratt & Whitney, with senior strategy and commercial v-p Jeff Pino promoted to replace him at Stratford. The moves were prompted by the appointment of P&W president Louis Chenevert to serve as president and COO of United Technologies.

On taking over the Sikorsky presidency, Pino told AIN that “resolving this work issue and meeting our commitments to our customers is my first priority.”