From IAMAW IMAIL, June 13, 2019.
IAM Local 708 members in Wichita, KS have ratified a new collective bargaining agreement with FlightSafety Services Corporation (FSSC), securing a one-year contract that comes with substantial increases and security for the future.
“I admire the strength and solidarity of these Machinists, many of whom fought for this country. They are more than deserving of a voice on the floor and justice on the job. We will always stand by them and support any decision they feel is beneficial to their families and this country,” said IAM District 70 President and Directing Business Representative Cornell Beard.
These courageous and highly skilled Machinists spent 76 days in an unfair labor strike against FSSC during a brutal Kansas winter earlier this year. The crux of the issue was to support FSSC to obtain special contract language, called Service Contract Act or SCA language, that would allow the group of workers on the KC-46 Pegasus Refueling Tanker Aircrew Training System to be part of the U.S. Air Force contract at McConnell AFB.
“No one will soon forget the sacrifices of this group of workers who took to the streets to make sure their voices were heard,” said IAM Southern Territory General Vice President Rickey Wallace. “It is by their path that the Machinists Union will continue its fight to protect all employees who fall under the Service Contract Act.”
Ultimately, the Department of Labor (DOL) ruled against the desire of the workers, but the IAM continues the fight as the issue makes its way through the proper appeals avenues. In April, members signed what’s called a Return-To-Work Agreement which included five weeks of back wages and a return to the negotiating table. The one-year agreement offers a ratification bonus to help offset wages lost during the bitter strike. But members haven’t given up the fight that brought them to the streets for nearly 11 weeks.
“It was a hard-fought battle. This agreement will help us as we continue to fight for SCA inclusion into the KC-46 Pegasus program at McConnell and in turn, protect all workers who fall under Service Contract Agreements,” said Local 708 Member and Flight Instructor Paul Powell.
“Our Local 708 brothers are a true example of Fighting Machinists. I believe these members were able to secure a better future because of their outstanding strength and solidarity,” said Tyson Kelly, District 70 Business Representative and Negotiator.
Tony Blevins, IAM Aerospace Coordinator and one of the Lead Negotiators at the table, agrees.
“These members are paving the way for a better future for all workers. They fought and continue to fight a successful battle for themselves, their families and the employees of future SCA contracts,” said Blevins. “I am very proud of the entire negotiating team for their efforts to secure this hard fought contract.”