ULA, machinists union agree on new three-year contract for space workers

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United Launch Alliance and the union representing the workers who build and launch its rockets have reached a new contract agreement, avoiding a repeat of the strike that marred the previous round of negotiations.

The three-year contract covers nearly 700 ULA employees at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Vandenberg Space Force Base in California and a ULA manufacturing facility in Alabama. Covered workers include those who build the rockets, work on launch teams and maintain the launch facilities.

More:Nationwide strike of launch provider ULA ends as union approves new contract

“ULA Machinists are the hardworking men and women who ensure that America’s launch capability remains second to none by not only manufacturing but launching some of the best and safest rockets in the world,” said Robert Martinez Jr., president of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. “They deserve a contract that acknowledges the decades of skills and expertise they bring to the job. I am proud to say that’s what we were able to bring home to the membership by standing in solidarity and being prepared for the bargaining table.”

A United Launch Alliance V rocket lifts off from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station Tuesday, March 1, 2022. ULA and a union representing 700 of its workers has agreed to a new three-year contract.

According to a press release from the union, the new contract calls for wage increases, health care plan improvements, a ratification bonus and 401(k) gains.

“We are pleased that the IAM represented employees have ratified this agreement that is so critical to continuing ULA’s success,” said Tory Bruno, ULA president and CEO. “The represented employees’ contributions have propelled ULA forward in delivering critical capabilities for our nation and our customers. The future is bright at ULA. Our employees build the best, most reliable rockets flying today and the missions we launch save lives, explore the universe, connect the world and help humankind unlock its potential in space.”

United Launch Alliance CEO Tory Bruno.

The new contract avoids a repeat of a nearly two-week long strike by the workers in 2018 during an impasse in contract negotiations.

ULA, a joint venture between Boeing and Lockheed Martin formed in 2006, builds and launches rockets from its Atlas V and Delta IV Heavy families. The company is developing a new rocket, Vulcan, which is expected to make its maiden flight later this year.

The new contract help keeps the Vulcan rollout on schedule, Bruno said.

“With the recent announcement of future Vulcan launches, we have a healthy launch backlog with more than 70 Vulcan launches on the manifest. This three-year contract helps secure our place as the go-to provider for launching unique missions on extremely complex trajectories as well as missions that will shape the future of the launch industry. We are excited and proud to work as a single and engaged team that is setting the standard for innovation and excellence in the space industry.”

A 25+ year veteran of FLORIDA TODAY, John McCarthy currently oversees the space team and special projects. Support quality local journalism by subscribing to FLORIDA TODAY. You can contact McCarthy at 321-752-5018 or [email protected]

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