The strike against Eaton Corporation-Cobham Mission Systems in Davenport continued on Monday, Feb. 21, after union workers rejected a new contract last week. John Herrig, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace (IAM) District 6 union business representative, said Monday morning that additional contract talks were held over the past few days, but no progress […]
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The strike against Eaton Corporation-Cobham Mission Systems in Davenport continued on Monday, Feb. 21, after union workers rejected a new contract last week.
John Herrig, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace (IAM) District 6 union business representative, said Monday morning that additional contract talks were held over the past few days, but no progress was made.
“They (company representatives) left the table, in fact, they left town on Sunday and indicated they will not be back until March 1,” Mr. Herrig told the QCBJ.
He called the company’s moves typical tactics by management “to starve the workers” and try to force the union members back to work.
A company representative confirmed in an email Monday that new talks were held on Friday with no deal reached.
“Eaton met with the union on Friday to seek resolution on the items the parties did not previously reach a tentative agreement on. We have not yet come to an agreement but will continue negotiations,” Katie Kennedy, senior manager of communications and marketing communications for Eaton-Cobham, said in an emailed statement.
“We remain committed to getting our employees back to work,” she added. “Eaton’s proposed contract is equitable and consistent with nationwide market trends and with our goal of attracting and retaining skilled workers.”
More than 400 workers from IAM Local 388 and IAM Local 1191, based in Moline, are on strike after rejecting a new three-year contract with the company. A news release from the union stated its members on Thursday “voted almost unanimously to strike after management made a contract offer with substandard wages, reduced health care benefits and decreased 401(K) retirement matching contributions.”
The strike against Eaton-Cobham, located at 2734 Hickory Grove Road, began at 12:01 a.m. Friday.
“We refuse to accept substandard wages or the erosion of our health care and retirement benefits,” Mr. Herrig said in a news release. “IAM Local 388 and IAM Local 1191 members are fighting for a contract that will make life better for themselves and their families. The past two years have been tough during the pandemic. … All we are asking for is a fair share produced from the blood, sweat and tears of work that makes Eaton Mission Systems Division of Davenport successful.”
Steve Galloway, IAM Midwest territory general vice president, added in a statement the union wants to see a “contract that is worthy of (the union members’) hard work and allows them at the end of each workday to hold their heads up high.”
Eaton-Cobham officials on Friday said they were “disappointed” with the strike, but plan to continue contract talks because they are close to an agreement.
“We are very surprised that some of our employees have decided to strike, especially since Eaton and the union were so close to a deal at the time the union chose to strike. The parties reached tentative agreements to provide more vacation, greater scheduling certainty and flexibility, additional leave and an agreement on retirement and health care plans,” according to a statement released Friday by Ms. Kennedy.
On late Sunday afternoon, about 20 union members were striking outside of Eaton-Cobham. Most of the strikers were wearing yellow safety vests and holding signs stating “ON STRIKE MACHINISTS UNION.” Many of the strikers cheered as numerous vehicles passed, honked horns or shouted out words of support.
“I can tell you this, we’ve had a very positive response from the public,” said one striker who asked not to be identified.
Several of the strikers told the QCBJ they could not make any comments on the strike situation because they were told not to talk to the press.
Mr. Herrig said that currently union strikers are not on the picket line 24 hours a day, but are on the line to match the company’s work shifts.
Eaton-Cobham Mission Systems has about 950 employees in the Quad Cities. Not all of those employees are in the union.
Eaton Corporation acquired Cobham Mission Systems last year. The company manufactures air-to-air refueling systems, environment systems and actuation, primarily for defense markets, according to its website.