Management and employees at Rock Island Arsenal in Illinois have not reached an agreement on their new contract, but management is planning to impose its own terms on the workers starting April 23. Employees, which negotiated in good faith with management for over a year only to be ignored. are not having any of it.
Members of AFGE Local 2119 gathered at Bechtel Park, protesting the forced contract that was not agreed upon by the union. They held signs that read "This is Union Busting!" "Proud Public Employee", and "Public Employees are Proud to Serve.
"The relationship at the Rock Island Arsenal is broken," said AFGE National President Everett Kelley at the rally. He added that forcing a contract is a disgrace to the American military.
Local 2119 represents about 400 highly skilled employees who produce military hardware such as Howitzer cannons, mobile repair modules, and portable kitchens for military operations. The local has filed a case with the Federal Relations Labor Authority and is awaiting the decision.
“We’ve gone to the table with management multiple times and left thinking that a fair agreement has been reached, only to be met with specific aspects of the contract changed without our input,” said Tim Russell, chief steward of AFGE Local 2119. “They’ve actually tried to slip in changes that weren’t even discussed. This has happened five times, and we have not agreed to any versions of the contract. The latest version of this contract is still being forced on us without our approval. It’s absurd and shows a lack of respect for the crucial work we do.”