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United Launch Alliance Union Workers On Strike

A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket with the AFSPC-11 mission for the U.S. Air Force. Photo: ULA

Some 600 aerospace union workers across the country at United Launch Alliance are on strike.

Members of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, including 171 here on Florida’s space coast, are unhappy with the latest contract negations with ULA.

ULA launches a majority of its rockets from Cape Canaveral, but some are launched from Vandenberg Airforce Base in California. While ULA keeps a small crew there, Space Coast workers usually fly to California to support the launch. Previosuly, they would work for 30 days with the assumption that they’ll have time at home when they return. According to the IAMAW, the new contract could put them back on the road right away.

Union Representative John Walker says that travel policy and a lack of job security for contractors are to blame for the strike.

“[It’s] literally going to abuse the folks where they have no family time, there’s no life,” he said. “They become a commodity for the company instead of a partner. For some reason [ULA’s] attitude towards our folks has turned bad.”

The workers are responsible for assembling ULA’s rockets ahead of launches.

Negotiations had been ongoing since April 16. “We’re disappointed that the IAM members rejected ULA’s last, best and final offer and voted to strike,” said Tory Bruno, ULA president and chief executive officer. “We believe our proposed contract is very competitive with other companies. Importantly, ULA’s final offer contributes to ULA’s long term viability in an increasingly competitive launch business environment.”

The company said no upcoming launches will be affected as it implements a strike contingency plans while focusing on meeting its commitments to customers.

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Brendan Byrne

About Brendan Byrne

Space Reporter and 'Are We There Yet?' Host

Brendan covers space news for WMFE, everything from rocket launches to the latest scientific discoveries in our universe. He hosts WMFE's weekly radio show and podcast "Are We There Yet?" which explores human space exploration. Brendan is a native Floridian, born and raised in Broward County. He moved to ... Read Full Bio »