Union mounts informational picket at Hytek Finishes

Brian Ball and machinists formed an informational picket line Monday afternoon at Kent
Brian Ball and machinists formed an informational picket line Monday afternoon at Kent's Hytek Finishes to show support for the company's employees during an ongoing contract talks.
— image credit: Mark Klaas/Kent Reporter

Kent-based Hytek Finishes and a machinists union were scheduled to meet Tuesday with a federal negotiator for the first round of negotiations since the National Labor Relations Board found the Boeing supplier in violation of federal labor law.

"We are here to support them as they work on getting their first contract," said picket Wilson "Fergie" Ferguson, a member of Machinists Union District Lodge 751 and a Boeing worker for 25 years as he walked on the sidewalk in front of Hytek. "They are having a hard time getting their first contract."

The NLRB determined that management at Hytek Finishes had committed eight violations of the National Labor Relations Act during its talks with the machinists union toward a new contract for more than 175 hourly workers. The talks have dragged on for 15 months – in large part because of the company's unfair labor practices, the union claims.

The board is still investigating other charges against the company.

The union hailed the findings.

"These people deserve better," said Kevin Cummings, who is the union's lead negotiator. "They've just refused to bargain ... broken the law on multiple occasions and we can't get their attention just through civil discussion, so we've got to make exhibitions like this to come out and picket and advertise the fact that they have not been able to follow the law and negotiate fairly."

The union cites below-average wages, safety concerns and inadequate health insurance.

"But we never did ask for Boeing wages or a huge increase," Cummings said. "The company ... would rather break the law than negotiate. That's the problem we have right now."

Talks on a first machinists union contract for the workers began in October 2011 and quickly bogged down.

Last February, the aerospace machinists filed the first of what would eventually be 15 complaints with the NLRB, accusing management at Hytek Finishes of repeatedly violating the National Labor Relations Act.

The union and Hytek management began meeting with a mediator in May. The union reports some progress has been made, but the two sides remain far apart on key issues.

Hytek, 8127 S. 216th St., is a subsidiary of Bellevue-based Esterline Technologies. Hytek provides aerospace parts to Boeing, Lockheed, Bell Helicopters and others. The Machinists who work for Hytek use chemicals to do metal finishing and etching on aircraft parts, including parts used on Boeing 787s, 747-8s, 777s and 767s.

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