SAN DIEGO — Officials from General Dynamics' Convair division said Monday that starting today the company will begin hiring replacements for 4,000 machinists who went on strike Sunday.
"We will start interviewing in order to bring in qualified people by next Monday," company spokesman Jack Isabel said.
Advertisements seeking to recruit 3,000 new workers will appear in newspapers and on radio stations beginning today, he said. The ads will advise applicants that if they are hired, they will have a permanent job, even once the strike is over.
The hiring effort is an attempt to completely replace the striking workers, Isabel said. "We have made our last and best offer. That's final. We're up and running. There is no intention of slowing our operations. There has been no date scheduled for further talks," he said.
Tom Roberts, chief negotiator for the union--the International Assn. of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, Lodge 1125--was skeptical about the effectiveness of the company's hiring plan.
"There's just not that (much) skilled help around in San Diego," he said.
Machinists at Convair work on several defense projects, including the Tomahawk cruise missile and Atlas rocket. They also work on commercial projects, such as the DC-10 fuselage under a subcontract with McDonnell-Douglas.
Such defense projects require employees to have government clearance, which Roberts claims will slow the hiring program. "I've been told that's going to take another six months. I just don't think they can fill all the slots. Maybe some of them, but not all of them," he said.
"I've told my workers to file for unemployment and told them to expect the strike to last at least four to six weeks," Roberts said.
Pickets were orderly Monday at the company's four San Diego facilities, according to Isabel.
The union went on strike Sunday after its members rejected the company's proposed contract, which the union said contained inadequate wage increases and additions to the pension plan.
The company offered lump-sum pay increases totaling $4,800 over three years. The company also offered pension benefits of $23 per month per year of service.
But union representatives objected that the lump-sum proposals were being offered without a general wage increase. They also argued that the pension offer did not meet the $24 sum negotiated at competitor Rohr Industries or the $26 at Lockheed.
The Convair division employs 8,800 workers. The entire General Dynamics operation in San Diego employs 16,500.