Eaton-Cobham union workers go on strike

Hundreds of members of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace (IAMA) Local 388 and 1199 at Eaton Corporation-Cobham Mission Systems in Davenport are on strike after rejecting a new contract.

About 25 workers were picketing in front of the company at 2734 Hickory Grove Road on Friday morning. The workers, spread out in several groups of about three or four each, were decked out in yellow safety vests and carrying signs stating “ON STRIKE MACHINISTS UNION.”

The Eaton Corporation-Cobham Mission Systems building in Davenport. CREDIT DAVE THOMPSON

Several union workers on the picket line declined comment, instead, referring questions to IAMA Local 388 officials. Calls to the union office from the Quad Cities Regional Business Journal were not returned as of late morning.

In a company statement, Eaton-Cobham officials said they were “disappointed” with the strike, but plan to continue negotiations with the union on Friday and this weekend. In fact, company officials said they were 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 late Friday morning by Katie Kennedy, senior manager of communications and marketing communications for Eaton-Cobham.

Ms. Kennedy added that: “While the parties did not reach an agreement on wages, the parties were only marginally apart at the time the union went on strike.”

On Thursday afternoon, hundreds of IAMA workers gathered at the Davenport Elks Lodge, 4400 W. Central Park Ave., and voted against a new three-year contract and to go on strike at midnight Friday. One report stated that 98% of the union workers voted against the contract.

There are about 365 union workers in Local 388.

The Local 388 website had this statement on Friday: “Yesterday,  Local 388 decided to turn down the contract offered from Eaton and go on strike. Stand strong, brothers and sisters.”

Union members are looking for better pay, health insurance, and 401(k) retirement plans, according to reports from union officials.

“We are disappointed that the union has elected to strike rather than continue to work under an extension and return to negotiations. We plan to meet with the union Friday or over the weekend to continue negotiations and encourage any employee who wishes to report to work to do so,” according to a statement from Eaton Corporation-Cobham released after the union contract vote. 

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.


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