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Striking Workers Bond Together

By Susy Solis, CBS 11 News
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FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM)- It has been nearly two weeks since the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Union went on strike after rejecting Lockheed Martin’s last contract offer.

Members of the International Association of Machinists District Lodge 776 (IAM) held a family picnic and rally at their union offices Saturday.

Pallets of food were donated by the United Food and Commercial Workers Union. A band played and bounce houses entertained the children.

The gathering served as a distraction to some families, who have no income coming in whatsoever.

“Me and my husband work at Lockheed so our whole income depends on Lockheed so we would love to get back to negotiating and get back to work,” said Latina Nickerson, who has worked at the plant for two years. “Prom is coming up, we’ve got a senior in high school, one is in grad school so we are feeling the pain.”

In previous strikes, Lockheed has reached out to the union after the second week. So far, no talks between Lockheed and the machinists union have been scheduled. Meanwhile, the company says they’ve continued production of their F-35 and F-16 fighter jets using salaried employees to perform critical tasks.

“It’s the same message Lockheed sends every time we’ve been on strike. They want to act like business is going on as usual and we know that’s not the case,” said Paul Black, president of the IAM.

The machinists union went on strike because Lockheed wants to eliminate pensions for new hires and offered the union fewer, more expensive health care plans in its latest contract offer.

“We’re hoping the company pays attention to the kids because the future work force is who they are trying to do away with the pension for and those are the guys we are trying to protect,” Black said.

Workers have been picketing outside several gates at the Lockheed facility but Saturday a new mascot overlooked the picketers at the front gate: a large blow-up with a sign around its neck that said “Stop Corporate Greed.”

Families say they prepared for and anticipated a long strike, but say the uncertainty of being out of work for an extended period of time is a worry that remains in the back of their minds.

“It’s nice to have a break,” Nickerson said. “But we are missing our jobs. Our families are depending on us and we would love to be back at work.”

The Machinists Union has gone on strike four times since 1980, with the longest one last three weeks.

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