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June 8, 2009

Strike begins

The only things soaring in the skies above Vance Air Force Base Monday had feathers.

The strike by members of International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Local Lodge 898 against CSC Applied Technologies LLC and three subcontractors, which began at 12:01 a.m. Monday, has caused a temporary suspension of normal flying operations at Vance.

Col. Richard Murphy, acting commander of the 71st Flying Training Wing, said the base is assessing the mission impact of the strike. Among the many jobs performed by contract employees at Vance are a number of services vital to the flying training mission, such as aircraft maintenance and crew life support.

“The wing’s response to the strike is driven by several factors,” Murphy said. “One is the concern for the well-being of our personnel and the families who live here on base.”

Since the Vance fire department is staffed by CSC employees, Murphy said Air Force personnel from Columbus Air Force Base, Miss., Altus Air Force Base and Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., “have been brought in to ensure that we have a fire department staffed to respond to emergencies on base.

“We also have Security Forces augmentees from this base activated to ensure the safety of base personnel and property,” Murphy said.

Despite the fact the planes weren’t flying Monday, said 1st Lt. Agneta Murnan, Vance’s Public Affairs chief, “The students aren’t off the hook. The students are expected to study and focus on their performance in simulators. Much of their training occurs on the ground and in simulators, and that hasn’t stopped.”

Members of IAMAW Local Lodge 898 voted overwhelmingly Friday night to reject the latest contract offer from CSC and subcontractors PRI/DJI, DenMar Services and M1 Support Services, and to go on strike once the existing three-year contract expired at midnight Sunday.

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