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Strikers OK pact with Raytheon unit

Workers will end a 70-day walkout at the missile systems division in Tucson.

January 15, 2007|From the Associated Press

TUCSON — More than 1,000 machinists have agreed to return to work at Raytheon Missile Systems next week after a 70-day strike, the company said Sunday.

Raytheon spokeswoman Sara Hammond said members of the International Assn. of Machinists Local 933 had agreed to a new contract that increased wages and health benefits. The workers are expected to return next Monday.

"We're certainly glad the situation has resolved," Hammond said. "We're looking forward to welcoming the team back to work so we can continue to focus on the critical mission of our customers and the nation's war fighters."

Raytheon executives and machinists union representatives spoke Friday for the first time since before Nov. 5, when 90% of union members rejected the company's initial contract offer.

About 60% of the 1,900 hourly workers covered by the expired contract remained on strike.

Hammond said the new Raytheon offer included wage hikes of 3% each year for three years and $1,000 for each employee to offset medical plan expenses.

Work never stopped at Tucson-based Raytheon Missile Systems -- a key Pentagon supplier -- while the union was on strike, Hammond said.

The company brought in another group of workers from its pool of 8,000 salaried employees, and some machinists covered by the union contract agreed to stay, she said.

"We met our production schedules," Hammond said. "For a time, we did better than pre-strike levels."

Bobby Martinez, directing business representative for Local 933, congratulated the union for holding out for a better deal.

"Raytheon seriously damaged the trust that our members had in them by trying to force that last contract offer on them," he said in a news release. "I am proud of the solidarity that this membership has shown."

During the 18 hours of talks, Pete Cinquemani, a Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service commissioner, spoke with both sides about possible options.

"I thought it was time to get them together to make the deal happen," Cinquemani said.

Raytheon Missile Systems, a subsidiary of Waltham, Mass.-based Raytheon Co., makes such weapons as Tomahawk cruise missiles, Javelin anti-tank missiles and air-to-air and ship self-protection missiles.

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