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Shuttle Workers Vote to Strike

A union representing about 570 United Space Alliance spaceshuttle program workers at the Kennedy Space Center voted to strike Saturdaymorning after unsuccessful contract negotiations.

 

The bargaining team for the International Association ofMachinist and Aerospace Workers rejected the company's contract offer callingit "substandard" compared with other aerospace companies, said LynnBeattie, a member of the bargaining team and former Local 2061 president.

 

Health care and retirement benefits were among the majorcontract grievances.

 

"It was a sub-par contract," said Johnny Walker,union business representative. "They are not keeping up to parwages-wise."

 

Both sides will have a chance to solve the conflict during afive-day "cooling off period" but the union could strike as early asmidnight June 9.

 

"If they want to avoid a strike, the ball is in theircourt," Walker said.

 

Tracy Yates, spokeswoman for United Space Alliance, said thecompany was "surprised and disappointed."

 

"The final offer was fair, competitive and responsivein every area," she said.

 

In a statement released Saturday, the company said it woulduse other employees to prepare for upcoming launches if a strike occurs.

 

No rule prevents Local 2061 workers from walking off the jobshortly before a shuttle launch, Yates said.

 

However, a strike would not have an impact on the shuttleAtlantis' liftoff, scheduled for Friday, because the Local 2061 workers' jobsare not directly related to the actual launches.

 

Local 2061 provides various support services such asmachinists, electric technicians, air-conditioning mechanics, painters andelevators technicians.

 

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