In the week before southeastern Texas was incapacitated by Hurricane Harvey, one of the most prominent forging operations in the region faced a different sort of outage. A contract expiration on August 21 sent 271 members of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers on strike against Wyman-Gordon in Houston, according to local reports. As reported by the union, the strike action was preceded by several weeks of negotiation toward a new contract.
Wyman-Gordon, a business unit of Precision Castparts Corp., has not commented on the contract or the labor situation.
The Houston operation produces closed-die forgings for aerospace and energy markets. It includes a 12,000-ton horizontal extrusion press; 20,000-ton closed-die press; 29,000-ton closed-die press; and 35,000-ton vertical extrusion press.
The expansive operation also offers product design services, tool and die machining, heat treating, and destructive and non-destructive product testing and inspection.
A local report claimed the company proposed a contract that would reduce compensation for short- and long-term disability by 10%, limit employees’ short-term disability eligibility to six months, and long-term disability to 18 months. The previous contract allowed workers to remain on long-term disability until age 65.
According to the same report, the company also is seeking shorter work breaks. Further, the proposed contract would reduce entry-level employee pay and freeze all wage increases for three years.
“Cuts in long- and short-term disability options, a wage system for new hires that prevents future earnings, unsafe working conditions, and stagnating wages – all of this is unacceptable to a workforce who has spent an average of 15 to 20 years at this company,” according to a statement by IAMAW Southern general vice president Mark A. Blondin.