Union approves contract offer

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STRATFORD, Conn. (AP) – Teamsters union members on Sunday voted to approve a new contract with Sikorsky Aircraft and end their six-week strike against the company.

Workers voted 1,488 to 1,416 on the contract, which included the same health care provision that led workers to overwhelmingly authorize the company’s first contract offer in February.

The 3,500 strikers voted in shifts during four meetings Sunday, during which the union negotiators explained the proposal.

“We are pleased that our workers have ratified the contract,” Sikorsky president Jeff Pino said in a statement. “Sikorsky now enters an exciting new era with tremendous opportunities for all of our employees, and the communities where we live and work. We remained focused on the future and are steadfast in our commitment to providing our customers with the world’s best vertical flight solutions.”

The company took out full-page advertisements in state newspapers Saturday that summarized the contract offer and encouraged employees to vote yes.

Teamsters negotiators did not endorse the company proposal.

Sikorsky spokesman Bud Grebey said the offer includes a bigger ratification bonus and the option for workers to select retroactive health care coverage and reimbursement for payments they may have made for temporary insurance while on strike.

The three-year contract proposal also includes 3.5 percent pay raises in each year, pension improvements and a ratification bonus that has now increased from $2,000 to $3,000.

But union officials say Sikorsky has proposed doubling workers’ contributions to their health insurance in the first year of a three-year deal and increasing them another 15 percent over the next two years. Under the expired contract, the workers paid about $26 per week for family coverage, both sides said.

The strike, which started Feb. 20, is the first at the helicopter-maker since 1963.

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