Raytheon machinists agree to new contract

/ Source: The Associated Press

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

Sara Hammond, a spokeswoman for the Tucson-based missile builder, said members of the International Association of Machinists Local 933 agreed to a new contract that increased wages and health benefits. The workers are expected to return Jan. 22.

"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."

Officials from Raytheon and the machinists union spoke Friday for the first time since before Nov. 5, when 90 percent of union members rejected the company's first offer.

Afterward, about 60 percent of the 1,900 hourly workers covered by the expired contract remained on strike.

Hammond said the company's new offer included wage increases of 3 percent each year for three years and $1,000 for each employee to offset medical plan expenses.

Work never stopped at Raytheon 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. Cummings said there was a push to settle toward the end of the meetings because of "a spirit of trying to get things done."

"That's when everything was finally agreed to, and 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., produces missiles including the Tomahawk cruise missile, the Javelin anti-tank missile and air-to-air and ship self-protection missiles.