Jun 4, 2012
At the end of May, 3600 members of the IAM (International Association of Machinists) marked their sixth week on strike against giant defense contractor Lockheed-Martin.
Lockheed demanded that these 3,600 workers give up more sacrifices in a new contract. Workers had previously given up 67% of their cost of living, and accepted big increases in medical and drug costs.
When Lockheed demanded that workers accept sharply higher medical costs and worse coverage, as well as an end to the regular pension plan for new hires, the workers voted “Enough is enough!” and went on strike on April 23.
Lockheed has not seen a strike this long since 1946. No coincidence, because, like every other company, Lockheed wants to push workers back to 1946 conditions – and worse.
Lockheed is going to spend more money fighting the strike than they would have to pay to settle it. On May 24, Lockheed said they would begin hiring temporary workers – scabs. As if they could put together F-35 fighter jets with casual labor!
But as Lockheed’s press release said, “... a defined contribution pension plan for new hires is an industry standard, which we have successfully implemented in a number of recent labor agreements.” Lockheed doesn’t even pretend it can’t afford to meet the workers’ needs. Simply, it is saying, “Why should we?”
The big corporations have had a free hand against workers for so long, they arrogantly expect to be able to continue increasing exploitation, as a matter of course.
Now, part of the IAM membership is fighting to call the corporate bluff. We can hope that it is only a very short time before many more workers decide to follow suit. The corporate class as a whole has been on the attack for years. The workers need to use their strength as a class, to counterattack all along the line.