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Locked-out workers at Collins voted 212 to 67 March 14 to accept the company’s latest offer, return to work.
TROY, Ohio — Some 300 members of United Auto Workers Local 128 at Collins Aerospace were locked out beginning Feb. 19 after voting down a contract that would have deepened divisions among workers at the plant. Collins, a subsidiary of Raytheon Technologies, responded to the union vote by barring the workers from their jobs, escorting them out of the plant and locking them out.
“We’re not on strike,” Local 128 President Joe Konicki told the Militant. “We were trying to get a good contract. But Collins locked out its workers when they discussed the company’s contract offer, found it unacceptable, and voted it down.”
Workers have been picketing both plant entrances 24 hours a day. The company makes aviation and aerospace products for commercial and military aircraft. The plant is 70 miles north of Cincinnati.
“We get a lot of support from people around here and it helps keep our spirits up,” Brian Ponsler, who has worked at the plant for 25 years, told Samir Hazboun, Socialist Workers Party candidate for U.S. Senate in Ohio, and this worker-correspondent when we visited the picket lines March 11. Dozens of passing cars and trucks honked in solidarity.
“UAW’s Local 14 president came from Toledo to bring his local’s support. That meant a lot to us,” added Jeff McDermit, a machinist with 10 years at the plant. “And, as you can smell, we get a lot of food and other donations,” he said, laughing as he flipped meat cooking on the burn barrel. “We have been three weeks now without a paycheck. It hurts. But we have to let them know where we stand. Their contract offer was downright indecent!”
“They want to freeze pensions for those of us with years in the plant and get rid of them entirely for new hires,” said Ponsler. He and McDermit explained they’re also opposed to the time it would take for new hires to reach the top pay rate.
“We have issues with their health care proposals too,” added McDermit. “And this picket is a lot bigger than just this one contract. We know we’re standing up for other workers, too. We’re also standing up for the workers out there only making $13, $14 an hour. Walmart workers here — they don’t have a union — but some of them have stopped by the line and dropped off bags of cookies.”
“Solidarity is what we have as workers,” Hazboun said. “And it’s what working people need. I am sharing your fight with everyone I meet, including at the big protests I have been to against the murderous war that the Putin regime in Russia is carrying out against people in Ukraine.”
“We’re glad to meet you and to hear that you are telling people about what we face,” said Ponsler. “We appreciate your solidarity.”
Send messages of support to: https://region2b.UAW.org/UAW-local-128, or to UAW Local 128, 1230 S. Market St., P.O. Box 266, Troy, OH 45373.