FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – Lockheed Martin has now admitted it may have trouble meeting its quota if the 3,000 members of the Machinists Local 776 continue marching their 51-day protest outside the gates.
The company has committed to delivering about 30 F-35 aircrafts this year. But with no end in sight to the longest strike in this plant’s history, production is admittedly slower.
“We think it’s likely as we go into the year we may have to change out commitment on that. We may not be able to meet that,” said Joe Stout, spokesman for Lockheed Martin.
With more than 3,000 employees still on strike, the company has opted to hire temporary workers to fill in for union members.
“Here on the production line we’ve got about 190 contract workers working,” Stout said. “It’s very unusual for us to bring in contract workers.”
In addition to the temporary workers, salaried employees are also working 30-day assignments on the production line.
While the union continues to strike outside Lockheed Martin’s main gate, there are already plenty of new faces on the company’s F-35 production line.
Ben Clark, an engineer, said the hands-on experience on the production line has helped him see his designer job in a new perspective. He said the experience will help in the future.
“It’s been very enlightening and I think its been productive because we’ve made recommendations to manufacturing and engineering about how we’d like to see things change,” Clark said.
To keep up with increased demand, production line employees are working longer hours –– six and sometimes seven days a week.
The Machinists union went on strike after rejecting the company’s last contract offer in April, hoping to save pensions for new hires and get better health care options.
But after more than eight weeks on strike, both sides say they are ready for the standoff to end. But each say they’re waiting for the other to set up talks for negotiations.
“We’d really like to get back to the table with them and we’d like to get them back on the job here,” Stout said.