“We’re hanging tough,” Bob Wood, communications director for Machinists Local 709, whose members went on strike against Lockheed-Martin on March 11 told the World when reached at his office in Marietta, Georgia. The decision to strike came after workers voted overwhelmingly to reject Lockheed’s “last, best and final” offer.

“Remember,” he said, “Georgia is a Right-to-Work (for less) state. But even so, more than 90 percent of the workers belong to the union and fewer than 40 of our members have crossed the picket line.” Wood said the company had withdrawn its threat to recall the several hundred workers who were on layoff. Only about 7 percent of eligible workers in Georgia belong to unions.

Although the strike involves wages and other questions, Wood said the main issue is job security. Pointing to the fact that there were about 14,000 workers at the facility in 1990, he added: “We’ve been losing jobs left and right and now the company wants to out-source maintenance work. If we let that happen we’ll lose another 250 jobs.”

A poll taken by the Atlanta Journal and Constitution found that 69 percent of those responding answered “yes” when asked, “Are Local 709 demands reasonable?”

The strike has also drawn the support of Roger Kahn, Democratic candidate for Congress for Georgia’s 11 District. “Your efforts go beyond helping employees of Lockheed-Martin. They are in behalf of workers across Georgia,” Kahn said in a letter to the local’s leadership.

A note on the Local 709 website explains that one of the reasons Lockheed wants to keep costs down is because of the high salaries and bonuses given company executives: $4.3 million to Dain Hancock, CEO of Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, $7.1 million to Vance Coffman, chairman and CEO of Lockheed-Martin, and seven-figure salaries to several other company officials.

Lockheed-Martin ranks 69th on the Fortune 500 list and is the nation’s biggest military contractor, with orders totaling $40 billion. The Marietta factory produces C-132 cargo aircraft and the F-22.

The author can be reached at fgab708@aol.com


Fred Gaboury
Fred Gaboury

Fred Gaboury was a member of the Editorial Board of the print edition of  People’s Weekly World/Nuestro Mundo and wrote frequently on economic, labor and political issues. Gaboury died in 2004. Here is a small selection of Fred’s significant writings: Eight days in May Birmingham and the struggle for civil rights; Remembering the Rev. James Orange; Memphis 1968: We remember; June 19, 1953: The murder of the Rosenbergs; World Bank and International Monetary Fund strangle economies of Third World countries