January 7, 2009

Vought gives striking workers ultimatum

Hundreds of striking Vought Aircraft Industries employees in Tennessee have been given an ultimatum: Return to work or lose their jobs to replacement workers.

Vought management notified the nearly 900 workers who have been on strike for 14 weeks in letters dated Jan. 3, The (Nashville) Tennessean reported Wednesday.

This is so the company can continue on with its business, said Vought spokeswoman Lynne Warne.

The Vought facility near Nashville International Airport builds wing components for Airbus aircraft.

Steve Davis, the company's vice president and general manager of the commercial aerostructures division, said in the letter to the employees that there are no indications a contract resolution is in sight.

We encourage you to return to work immediately because the company will now seek permanent replacements for you in order to continue to operate its business, he wrote.

Federal mediators have been unable to break the impasse between the company negotiators and representatives of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Local Lodge 735.

The walkout began after workers rejected an offer in late September that would have meant changes in pension and healthcare benefits.

Local Lodge 735 President Mike Worrell said another meeting with federal mediators is set for Jan. 13.

The company says it's willing to negotiate, and so are we, he said.