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Raytheon Missile Systems Replaces Striking Factory Workers January 6, 2007

Posted by notapundit in US News.
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TUCSON, Ariz. (AP)–Raytheon Missile Systems has started replacing factory workers who went on strike two months ago after rejecting a contract offer.

A union spokesman called the hires “an insult to existing employees.”

Production at the factory has risen above pre-strike levels and some projects are ahead of schedule since nearly 2,000 machinists went on strike Nov. 5, Raytheon spokeswoman Sara Hammond said.

But the company can’t keep using its engineers as factory workers indefinitely. The plant makes the Javelin anti-tank missile, the Tomahawk missile, air-to-air missiles and ship self-protection missiles.

Hammond said the company was hiring assembly workers and custodians, but wouldn’t say how many.

Bobby Martinez, International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Local 933’s directing business representative, called Raytheon’s announcement a strategic ploy.

“This is a company tactic to pressure our members into accepting their offer,” he said.

Representatives of the union and Raytheon have separate meetings scheduled with a federal mediator next week.

Around 90% of the union’s members voted to reject the contract offer because “it’s a below-industry-standards offer and there are some uncertainties in the language of the contract,” Martinez said.

Strikers have said their main concerns are the rising cost of health insurance and minimal raises for the highest-paid employees covered by the contract.

Raytheon Missile Systems, a division of Raytheon Co. (RTN), is Southern Arizona’s largest private employer with more than 11,000 employees.

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