Susan Morrison is ready to talk.
The in-process builder at Collins Aerospace has been locked-out of her job since May 23, and along with her co-workers has, been picketing the entrance of the Union factory.
Morrison and her cohorts are members of United Steel Workers Local 1449 and have now voted twice to reject the contract that Collins has put on the table.
Collins Aerospace and USW 1449 aren’t set to return to the bargaining table until July 26, a date that Morrison says the corporation has pushed out longer than necessary in a further attempt to disenfranchise and demoralize the locked-out workers.
So, Morrison and her husband, another Collins employee, and their coworkers continue to line the road daily holding signs and waving at passing cars, just as they have been since the lock-out began over six weeks ago.
Meanwhile, she says, other people are working in the Collins building.
“Scabs,” she says. “Scabs are working there now. I’m looking over at the parking lot now and there are about five vans. They fit about 12-15 people in each van and drive them in to work every day.”
Collins says these workers are from out-of-state and are staying in a hotel in Lewisburg. She says she sees other cars in the parking lot – rehired retirees, people who were fired in the past, she says, who are now doing the work the union members proudly did until their contract expired.
According to Collins, the recently expired contract gave workers a 2.5 percent pay increase each year over the past five years, an amount, she says, that is not keeping up with the cost of living.
Further, she says, fluctuating health insurance premiums coupled with high, fluctuating deductibles were pricing workers out.
What the workers want, she says, is a “lock-in at a certain rate on healthcare with a locked-in deductible.”
As for rate of pay?
“We want a 10 percent raise the first year and three percent for the next two years,” she says. “That would be a good start.”
According to Morrison, when the union and Collins Aerospace first sat down for negotiations in May, Collins offered a 3 percent raise. When they returned to the table in June, the offer had dropped to 1 percent, she said.
“We said ‘hell no!’” said Morrison.
Morrison continues to be enthusiastic about her union, and feels a deeper connection to her co-workers, whom she calls her brothers and sisters, as a result of the lock-out and the resulting protests.
But, at the same time, she seems disappointed that the company where she has worked for years has locked her out of her job.
“I was a great worker. Weekends. Holidays. I did it all. I’ll go back, but I won’t be the same person I was before,” she says.
She says that is why she’s choosing to speak to the press.
“I’m 61 years old. I’ve got nothing to lose,” she says.
“I’m happy to speak for all my brothers and sisters in this group when I say we would like a wage increase. We would like a cap on our deductibles.
“And really,” she says, “we would like a little appreciation.”
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