Dec. 16--The union representing about 4,500 Sikorsky workers in Connecticut and Florida overwhelmingly approved a four-year contract on Sunday.
The vote, 2,098 to 66, was held in Wallingford and Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., near another Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. plant. About 3,750 of the members are Connecticut workers.
Rocco Calo, secretary and treasurer of the Teamsters Local 1150, said the vote's smooth passage reflected members' approval of what was an "all-around good package" and the union's willingness to work with the company, which is facing a tough defense market.
"I say constantly that we would rather be a business partner than an adversary," Calo said in a phone interview.
Initially set to expire in mid-February, the contract covers machinists, inspectors, final assembly workers, production control workers and maintenance workers at Sikorsky. The union began negotiations earlier to lock in lower rates on health insurance, Calo said.
The contract includes an annual 2.5 percent wage increase, a cost of living adjustment, a $4,000 ratification bonus that is matched 50 percent if the member deposits it into a retirement or savings account, and increases to members' pension benefits.
In return, Calo said, the company asked the union to address some issues on the shop floor relating to production and attendance. The union has agreed to create committees to address the company's concerns.
"The biggest thing in this business is the labor piece," Calo said. "When they are out there bidding for contracts, out there with sequestration and everyone cutting back on budgets, we have to be the best and the most cost-effective."
Paul Jackson, a company spokesman, said the new contract "provides labor stability in the midst of a challenging and uncertain economic time for Sikorsky, its customers and its suppliers."
United Technologies Corp., the parent company of the Stratford-based helicopter manufacturer, said this week it expected sales to the Pentagon to drop next year by as much as 5 percent.
Last week, Pratt & Whitney machinists narrowly approved a new contract with the company that increased wages and pensions, while calling for more than a hundred union jobs to be outsourced to a third-party contractor.
Copyright 2013 - The Hartford Courant
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