BAY ST. LOUIS, Miss. (AP) — As many as 116 Lockheed Martin employees at Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis are on strike.
Machinists union spokesman Frank Larkin said members of Lodge 2249 voted down a contract offer Thursday from Lockheed Martin that would have ended worker pensions.
"It's a single issue that drove the strike vote," Larkin said.
By Friday morning, more than 20 employees were walking picket lines at the Stennis gate.
Ken Powe, the chief union steward, told the Sun Herald (http://bit.ly/1j2XxPI) that a pension is important in part because primary contractors at Stennis can change.
"It's not a matter of money; it's where we want to put the money," Powe said. "These companies come in and out of here every five to seven years, and we just want our pension to be consistent."
Larkin said the union is ready to return to bargaining, but no meetings are scheduled.
Company spokesman Steve Field said Lockheed Martin is disappointed.
"Lockheed Martin offered an outstanding proposal that is fair and equitable for employees," Field said in a statement. "The offer provides competitive pay and comprehensive benefits while maintaining Lockheed Martin's ability to deliver to our customers. This is our last, best and final offer."
Lockheed Martin, based in Bethesda, Maryland, supports NASA rocket testing at Stennis with 430 employees. NASA spokeswoman Rebecca Strecker said a test is scheduled next week, but Lockheed hasn't notified the agency that it won't be able to proceed.
"It is NASA policy to remain neutral and encourage sound relations with industry and labor in order that essential government operations can continue without interruption," she said in a statement. "Lockheed Martin is contractually obligated to fulfill the requirements of their contract and ensure continuity of essential operations."
More than 5,000 people work for all employers housed at Stennis.