Machinists strike parts department at Cummins

Parts department employees at Cummins Northwest's distribution center on Swan Island in Portland went on strike Jan. 18. The 26 employees are members of Machinists Lodge 1005.

Fifty-three service department employees at the company who are members of a separate Machinists Union bargaining unit are honoring the picket line.

Wages and pension are the main issue in the dispute, said Business Representative Gary Carver. Parts department employees want wage and pension increases similar to those in the service department, which struck for 10 days a year-and-a-half ago to win a five-year agreement and wage hikes of 3 percent a year. Cummins has offered the parts department workers a three-year contract with raises of 2.4 percent, 2.3 percent and 2.6 percent, Carver said.

Journey-level workers start at $10.05 an hour and top out at $16.40.

Employees overwhelmingly rejected three proposals before striking.

Cummins NW has a somewhat checkered past with the Machinists, so the union is bracing for a long strike.

On day three of the dispute, owner Don Pugh of Renton, Wash., mailed letters threatening to permanently replace the strikers if they didn't return to work by the end of the week. He used the same tactic in the service department strike.

Last year, employees at Cummins NW in Medford decertified from the Machinists Union and in Coburg, Ore., the service department is union while the parts department operates non-union.

Last week the Machinists suspended negotiations and filed an unfair labor practice complaint after Cummins reneged on negotiations to include five sweepers and drivers in the service department bargaining unit.

"It's taken 14 meetings to do what should have been done in three, and now (after the parts department strike) the company wants to change strike language that we tentatively agreed to," Carver said.

The Swan Island parts department employees maintain the warehouse and handle all shipping and receiving for Cummins NW franchises in the Pacific Northwest.

Several pickets at the distribution center complained to the Northwest Labor Press that Oregon Department of Transportation vehicles and a Radio Cab driver crossed their picket line.

No new talks have been scheduled.

February 5, 1999 issue

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