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Thu, Apr 21, 2005

Workers Picket Piper

Union Workers Want An End To Wage Concessions

Throught thick and thin, good times and bad, New Piper Aircraft and its workers have muddled through. There was the economic slump. Then there were the hurricanes (yup, plural). But now, that solidarity is being put to the test.

"We've never done this before, but it's time now," said Long, a 40-year Piper paint shop employee and chief negotiator for the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. "We need a contract."  He was quoted by the Vero Beach Press Journal.

Long was one of about 125 Piper workers picketing the Vero Beach factory Wednesday. But only after their shifts ended -- they didn't take time away from the job to register their displeasure.

In spite of the gesture, the mood inside Piper headquarters was somber.

"Piper and the union have agreed not to negotiate this in the press. We decided to negotiate during our sessions; that was one of the rules of the negotiations," Piper spokesman Mark Miller told the Press Journal. "It appears that the union has decided to break that agreement and we are very disappointed."

Negotiations between the machinists' union and Piper management have dragged on for a year-and-a-half now.

"They took away six percent of our pay two years ago and we want it back now," said Hoa Vu, a six-year assembly parts employee at Piper, also interviewed by the Vero Beach newspaper. "I am a single mom and I pay $400 a month in dental and health care. I need help big time." 

Talks resume May 2nd.

FMI: www.newpiper.com, www.iamaw.org

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