Boeing's Launch Schedule Hit by Impending Union Strike

Boeing aerospace workersacross the country are preparing to strike next week, a move that would haltthe company's Delta rocket launch schedule at Cape Canaveral and Vandenberg AirForce Base.

The planned November 7launch of NASA's CloudSatand CALIPSO environmental satellites has already been impacted by thebattle between Boeing and its workforce. The two spacecraft were supposed tomove from a processing building to the launch pad for attachment atop a Delta 2rocket earlier this week, but officials scrubbed those plans due to the loomingstrike.

NASA said it didn't wantthe satellites sitting on Vandenberg's Space Launch Complex-2 West pad iftechnicians went on strike.

Other launches facinguncertainty are the commercial Delta 4 rocket from Cape Canaveral with thecivilian GOES-N weather satellite and an Air Force mission using a Delta 4 fromVandenberg with a classified spy satellite. Both missions have been encounteredsignificant delays for technical problems.

The InternationalAssociation of Machinists and Aerospace Workers voted to reject Boeing's latestcontract offering. Union leaders cited the lack of retiree medical benefits fornew employees, vacation and insurance costs as unacceptable parts of theproposed contract.

"Perhaps all our brothersand sisters at the launch sites should start sharing that information with thelaunch customers, NASA, NRO, U.S. Air Force, etc.," a posting on theunion's Web site says. "They might want to know how long their launchesare going to slip!"

"The IAM informed usthat our employees who they represent rejected our contract offer," aBoeing statement said. "We are open to any ideas that the union mightbring to us to come to an agreement, however we feel we have given them thebest offer we possibly can."

The union includes 365workers at Boeing's Huntington Beach facility, 288 at Cape Canaveral and 100 atVandenberg.

The workers are critical tolaunch activities, meaning their strike would prevent any liftoffs fromoccurring, Boeing said.

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