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Machinists At Boeing Supplier In Spokane Prepare To Go On Strike

Elaine Thompson
AP Photo
Jon Holden, president of District Lodge 751 of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers

About 400 union machinists at Triumph Composite Systems, an aerospace supplier in Spokane, are preparing to go on strike tonight after their contract expires.

Lynne Warne, a spokeswoman for Triumph, said the facility will keep operating by using a combination of salaried employees and contractors. 

Triumph supplies components for airplane interiors to Boeing and other aerospace companies. The workers are represented by District Lodge 751 of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers.

Ninety-four percent of the workers rejected the company’s contract offer and 93 percent voted to strike. Jon Holden, president of District 751, said  workers wanted the company to improve retirement benefits for new employees.

"We have a pension system that excludes new hires, and it was very important for the group to have pay and benefits that were equal," Holden said. "In fact, their theme was `One Equal Team — 2016.'"

Holden said employees are also unhappy with a two-tier wage scale the company put in place a few years ago. At that time, Holden said a large majority of workers rejected the company's contract offer but not enough of them voted to go on strike, so the contract went into effect.

Triumph said in a statement that its offer was fair and included wage increases and lump sum payments. The company said it’s disappointed by the workers’ decision to strike.

A Boeing spokeswoman said the company does not expect any impact on its production. 

In July 2017, Ashley Gross became KNKX's youth and education reporter after years of covering the business and labor beat. She joined the station in May 2012 and previously worked five years at WBEZ in Chicago, where she reported on business and the economy. Her work telling the human side of the mortgage crisis garnered awards from the Illinois Associated Press and the Chicago Headline Club. She's also reported for the Alaska Public Radio Network in Anchorage and for Bloomberg News in San Francisco.