4,500 Machinists Walk Out at Rohr in Contract Dispute

Times Staff Writer

About 4,500 machinists Rohr Industries plants in Chula Vista and Riverside went on strike at midnight after union members rejected the company’s final offer Sunday. Company officials at the Chula Vista plant, where 2,300 machinists are striking, said that non-striking employees will be asked to stay home today while company officials decide whether to continue operations.

“Our plans at present are to continue operations, with staff and administrators manning the production lines, hiring new workers if necessary,” company spokesman Richard Dalton said Sunday night. “We intend to meet our contract deadlines.”

Machinist Union locals in Chula Vista and Riverside held votes Sunday, and both groups received strike authorization from members. Tom Hurd, Lodge 755 business representative in Chula Vista, said that picket lines were set to go up at both plants at 12:01 this morning--one minute after the union’s three-year contract with the company expired.

Hurd said the company’s final offer, delivered Saturday, was below the level of other major aerospace company contracts, especially in the field of pension benefits.


Rohr employs about 5,000 people in Chula Vista and about 3,000 in Riverside, where about 2,100 machinists went on strike. Both plants produce a variety of aircraft components--about two-thirds for commercial aircraft and the remainder for military use.

Dalton said the rejection of the company’s final proposal, by a 3-1 ratio according to union officials, was unexpected. Talks had been going on since November and had increased in frequency during recent weeks.

Lump-sum cash bonuses of about 22% of wages were offered by the company, Dalton said. The wage increases would have added a total of about $5,800 to the pay of the average worker over the three-year term of the contract, the company spokesman said.

Hurd said the company and union agreed on salaries but pension improvements offered were far below recent pension settlements in the industry. He said members also objected to changes in the company’s medical plan which imposed worker costs for non-company HMO (health maintenance organization) programs.


Dalton said the company had offered significant medical plan improvements in its offer, including 100% company payment for medical and dental programs for the workers and their dependents.

Machinists Union members last struck Rohr Industries in 1971--a bitter walkout over contract terms that lasted three months.

Neither side said further talks were scheduled.