After recent negotiations between United Auto Workers Local 342 and Lebanon TRW management failed, the workers took to the picket lines Sunday night.
UAW spokesperson and former Lebanon City Council member Kevin Huddleston said the strike started about 9 p.m. for about 400 employees and would continue “as long as it takes.”
“All we are asking for is our fair shake,” Huddleston said. “I’m a second-generation employee – my father worked here – and I would like to retire from here. “The way it’s going now, I won’t be able to retire from here.”
Huddleston said workers want higher pay, as well as better health care and retirement benefits.
“People who are starting out now are making less than when I started 20 years ago,” Huddleston said. “A woman who starts now would be below the poverty level, working for a corporation that makes millions.”
Huddleston said TRW’s chief executive officer’s salary is about $26 million annually, which equals about $12,000 an hour.
“They are making more now than they ever have and asking us to make cuts,” Huddleston said.
But Huddleston said it isn’t the first time TRW workers have dealt with cuts at the company. Following a series of layoffs in 2007 that reduced the number of employees at the Lebanon plant on Hartmann Drive by more than 100, workers conceded to cuts in 2008 that Huddleston equaled about $3 million annually.
“All we are asking is for them to treat us right,” Huddleston said.
Company officials released a statement Monday morning.
"TRW confirms that the workers at its commercial steering plant in Lebanon voted for a strike action and began a strike last evening shortly after 9 p.m.," the statement said. "We continue to negotiate with the union in good faith and are seeking to reach an agreement in hopes of ending the strike. TRW does not discuss details of the negotiations as these discussions are between the company and the union."
TRW celebrated its 50th anniversary in Lebanon in May 2010. In July, TRW reported second quarter 2013 financial results with sales of $4.5 billion, an increase of 6 percent compared to the prior year period. The company reported GAAP second quarter net earnings of $248 million or $1.99 per diluted share, which compares to net earnings of $220 million or $1.71 per diluted share in the prior year period.