September 30, 2023

F-35 Machinists Strike to Protest Lockheed Contract

Lockheed strikers

By Jay Friess

Lockheed strikers

Workers from the International Association of Machinists, who support the Joint Strike Fighter program, picketed Gate 3 of Naval Air Station Patuxent River Monday after going on strike.

Lockheed Martin machinists went on strike this morning after their contract expired Sunday night, and the union rejected one proposed by the company’s management.

On Monday morning, workers from the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers began taking shifts picketing in front of Gate 3 of Naval Air Station Patuxent River as their fellow members picketed in Fort Worth, Texas and Edwards Air Force Base in California.

“Honk if you love Jesus and support the union!” one worker shouted as cars passed through the gate.

The strike has put a halt on production, support and testing of the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter, a program which has already seen several cost overruns and is in Washington’s cross-hairs this week as Congress debates where and how to cut the Pentagon’s budget.

The union rejected Lockheed’s latest contract offer, which it says would eliminate pensions for new hires, increase health care costs and allow the company to hire subcontractors for union jobs. The union says it represents 200 workers at Pax River, 150 at Edwards and 3,500 in Fort Worth.

A particular problem that local workers have with the new contract is something called the “field rate,” an extra salary paid to union members who have had to relocated to Pax River to support testing of the JSF. The union asked for a $3 per hour field rate; Lockheed countered with a 75-cent rate.

“It’s like they gave them a quarter, patted them on the head and sent them back to work,” said Joe Alvian, a business representative with the union, who stood with striking workers at Pax River Monday morning.

With Maryland’s high cost of living, many of Lockheed’s Texas workers are finding that their standard of living has fallen. Gilbert Torres, a day shift steward for the union, said he has had to downgrade from a two-bedroom waterfront apartment in Texas to a one-bedroom apartment in Maryland.

Taken with the field rate counter offer, the company’s health care and pension offers are arrogant, Alvian said. He added, “As sorry as that [health] insurance is, they ought to give it to them for free. Lockheed Martin ought to be ashamed of themselves.”

In a prepared statement, Lockheed said it was disappointed that the union decided to strike.

“We believe our offer included terms that constituted a fair and equitable contract for the IAM members, including wage increases of 3 percent annually in each of the three years, a $3,000 signing bonus, an annual cost of living supplement of $800, increased retirement income for current employees, and various other improvements,” the statement reads. “Our operations will remain open and we will implement our contingency plan while focusing on meeting our commitments to our customers.”

Alvian said workers will “do whatever it takes” to maintain the strike until the union and Lockheed reach an agreement.

As the sound of a jet engine rumbled through the overcast sky, one worker observed, “That better not be one of our planes. Oh, wait, they don’t have anybody to get them up!”

7 Responses to “F-35 Machinists Strike to Protest Lockheed Contract”
  1. Dan says:

    [sentence removed]

    My favorite part of this picture it the guy using the “Proud to be Union” sign to cover his face. Yea dude, we can see how proud you are…

  2. Editor says:

    Easy with the F-bombs, gentlemen, real or implied. Let’s keep it above the belt. Thanks!

  3. Georgia Ann says:

    Stand tall – I’m glad the Union is involved. Lot of responsibility on these employee’s shoulders. Fight on

  4. To Dan says:

    Just so it’s clear, standing on that corner so everyone knows: LM is cheating it’s employees out of Healthcare, Pensions, and the right to a decent living. We all are proud to stand behind our Union and the small group that is representing PAX WE ALL ARE PROUD TO BE THERE Hiding behind the sign, well some have issues, and let’s face it not everyone can photograph well

  5. Tweety says:

    Maybe he is not hiding put keeping the wind off himself and displaying the sign proudly.Dont judge someone till you have to stand in the cold and wet weather. Just think maybe someday you may work for LM, you will be thanking this group of people for their effects.

  6. Panthere says:

    Some people do not wish to strike. Copays are rising across the board; a 401(k) type pension plan is the way of the future. Lockheed is cheating itss employees out of nothing.
    The union is cheating them out of money they could be making by just going back to work like they truly want to.

    Has anyone who is gung-ho on this strike actually gone through a bad one?

  7. PaulyP says:

    It’s kind of unreal, actually. It’s an excellent contract. It meets or exceeds the industry standard. Pensions are going away because they are unsustainable. Invest wisely with the offered 401(k) and you could do better than with a fixed pension, anyway. Healthcare? Hey, at least you HAVE insurance and LM Healthworks covers preventative care at 100%. Think you need more? Purchase a supplement. YOUR health is YOUR responsibility, not Lockheed’s or the taxpayers’ or the shareholders’. Want to ensure a great retirement? Contribute more to your own future.

    Check this out…

    “At the end of 2007, before the Great Recession and stock dive, Lockheed’s accrued pension liability was about $1 billion. On Dec. 31, it was $13.5 billion.” Unreal.

    Read more here:

    To answer Panthere, the only folks even on the picket line in Fort Worth are the handful who are ASSIGNED to be there. (Yes, they take turns.) There is so much infighting on their FB group that the “loyal union strikers” have created their own private group and blocked “scabs” or those who didn’t want to strike or question the wisdom of it from accessing it. Less than a week and this union is already broken. And the strike has accomplished nothing. Traffic flows in and out of the plant as usual, work is getting done, birds are rolling, union-created issues are being found and resolved, and folks are having a good time working in the more-relaxed and cooperative non-union environment.

    At this point, it looks like it’s just a matter of time. Once the NLRB rules in favor of Lockheed, it wouldn’t surprise me to see them hiring.

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