4/13/08

UAW on strke v. General Dynamics

Related General Dynamics stories: here

Hundreds of union workers at a Marion, Va., defense contracting plant went on strike Friday in reaction to a benefits package offered by the company. Gary Blevins, president of United Auto Workers Local 2850, said the union had been negotiating with General Dynamics, which employs more than 500 people in Marion, for about four weeks and workers decided to strike after the company planned to lay off senior workers, double health insurance premiums and cut the pensions of new hires.

"It’s the beginning of the end of our pension," he said. "... They’ve more than doubled our health-care premiums. All we want is a fair and equitable contract to stay afloat. We don’t want to go backwards."

Blevins said strikers formed five picket stations at the plant around 9 p.m. Friday. The workers were on a schedule to man the picket lines throughout the weekend and into next week, he said.

"We’ve notified the company that we’re on strike, but we haven’t heard anything," he said.

General Dynamics spokeswoman Gail Warner declined to comment on the strike, but released a prepared statement from company Vice President Jim Losse.

"The United Auto Workers – United Defense Workers of America Local 2850 ... are on strike at our Marion facility. Our site has over 350 employees who are currently on strike and over 175 who are not. The site remains open for business and will continue operations to meet customer needs," it read.

(tricities.com)

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