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Helicopter Company Sikorsky Is Struck by 3,600 Teamsters

From Associated Press

Nearly 3,600 Sikorsky Aircraft employees in Connecticut and Florida went on strike Monday, blaming higher health insurance costs in the company’s contract offer as the reason for their walkout.

Workers with Local 1150 of the Teamsters overwhelmingly rejected the contract and voted Sunday in favor of the strike, the company’s first since 1963.

The union represents 3,500 workers at the helicopter maker in Connecticut and 90 employees in Florida.

Union members began picketing at Connecticut facilities in Stratford, West Haven, Bridgeport and Shelton and in West Palm Beach, Fla., after the expiration of their contract at midnight Sunday.

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Sikorsky executives said that they believed they had made a good offer, considering that it also included a 3.5% pay raise in each year of the three-year deal, pension improvements and a $2,000 ratification bonus.

“We are disappointed that union members failed to ratify the contract,” Elizabeth Amato, Sikorsky’s vice president of human resources, said in a statement Sunday.

“The company presented what we believe is a fair and equitable contract that is competitive with the region and the industry,” She said.

Sikorsky, a unit of United Technologies Corp., employs about 9,500 workers in Connecticut, including 6,000 salaried workers. The company’s family of helicopters includes versions of the CH-53 and UH-60 for the military, the S-76 for civilian use and the new H-92.

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No further contract talks were scheduled.

According to the union, the company’s offer would have doubled workers’ healthcare co-payments in the first year of the contract and raised them an additional 15% over the following two years.

“What people made the decision on was the medical package,” Rocco Calo, the union’s secretary treasurer, said after Sunday’s vote.

Union members had been preparing for the possibility of a strike by forming a 100-member strike committee to make plans for picket lines, emergency financial assistance and other potential measures.

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