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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
News >  Spokane

Machinists, Triumph Composites near contract agreement amid strike

After five weeks on strike, union workers announced Thursday they have reached a tentative contract agreement with West Plains aerospace manufacturer Triumph Composite Systems.

The local Machinists union, which voted to strike May 10 after rejecting a contract proposal from Triumph, will decide whether to approve a four-year contract on Wednesday. Union leaders said they made compromises but are satisfied with Triumph’s new offer.

“In general, it makes improvements over Triumph’s previous offer in every area that our members identified as priorities,” Bryan Corliss, a union spokesman, said in an email. “We are recommending that they vote to accept it.”

The Machinists wanted better pensions and to eliminate a two-tiered wage system that took effect with the signing of their latest contract in 2013. Workers hired after May of that year are paid less than co-workers hired previously. Some aren’t eligible for the union’s pension plan.

The new contract would shrink the pay gap and create a retirement savings plan similar to a 401(k), said Steve Warren, a union representative. If the union votes to approve the contract, health insurance rates will go unchanged, and each member will receive $7,000 in bonuses over the next two years. The contract applies to about 400 workers.

The company also agreed to notify workers 120 days before outsourcing jobs.

Triumph Group, a Pennsylvania-based company with facilities in 70 locations worldwide, bought the West Plains facility from Boeing in 2003. The company has publicly discussed plans to cut about 1,200 jobs this year, or about 8 percent of its workforce.

The company said in a statement that its goal always has been “to provide employees with fair, competitive, market-based wages and the same model of retirement benefits in place at other Triumph locations.”

Triumph Composite makes floor panels, flight decks and control systems that are used in commercial airliners built by Boeing, Airbus and Bombardier.

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