Healthcare, wages at stake in Machinists strike at UTC Cheshire Aerospace
Tom Connolly

CHESHIRE, Conn. — In their second week on the picket line, 188 members of the Machinists union (IAM), mostly women, are out on strike at UTC Cheshire Aerospace demanding affordable health care and decent wages.  Support for the workers from sister unions and elected officials grows daily for what may be a long battle.

The company, whose profit was $2.4 billion last year, is in the final stages of a $30 billion merger with Iowa-based avionics manufacturer, Rockwell Collins.

In addition, the company got a big windfall from the Trump corporate tax cuts.  Instead of passing any of that along, the company refuses to budge from a contract negotiation offer that would leave workers with less than they have now.

Tom Connolly

Wearing signs saying “Stop Corporate Greed,” the workers are maintaining a 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week picketline.

“The membership voted to go on strike because they felt it is time for the company to treat us fairly.  There is a 70 percent women’s population here and we make $20 less than others in different plants that solder the same way we do here,” said IAM Local Lodge 62 A president, Mary White.

The workers produce brakes, landing gear and data management services.

“It was also health care,” White told the People’s World.  “In order for our members and their families to be 100 percent covered they would have to pay $106.00 a week out of their paycheck, plus vision and dental and long-term disability.”

Tom Connolly

White explained that “on average, once we paid all the cost of health care we would be making about $500 a month.  Our only option would be to work seven days a week for 10 to 12 hours a day so we can make ends meet.”

“We have a lot of people coming here sick because they can’t go to the doctor,” said White. “We are going to stay out here and keep fighting until they give us something reasonable.”

The workers have the full support of their sister locals at UTC Pratt & Whitney and Hamilton Sunstrand divisions, as well as their district and national union.

International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers president Bob Martinez emphasized, “Our members at Local 62 A are responsible for the success of UTC, and they deserve to be treated fairly at the bargaining table.  The IAM will fight to ensure that the members of Local 62 A get the dignity and respect they deserve.”

Strike fund contributions can be sent to Local Lodge 62 A (“strike fund” in memo), PO Box 87, Marion, CT 06451.


CONTRIBUTOR

Joelle Fishman
Joelle Fishman

Joelle Fishman chairs the Connecticut Communist Party USA. She is a Commissioner on the City of New Haven Peace Commission, serves on the executive board of the Alliance of Retired Americans in Connecticut and is an active member of many economic rights and social justice organizations. As chair of the CPUSA Political Action Commission, she has played an active role in the broad labor and people's alliance and continues to mobilize for health care, worker rights and peace.    

Tom Connolly
Tom Connolly

Tom Connolly is a retiree labor and social justice activist writing from Connecticut.

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