AFGE Inks Private Deal

A local chapter of the American Federation of Government Employees signed a labor contract with Hughes Aircraft Co. yesterday, marking the first time a federal union has ever signed such a deal with a large private-sector contractor.

AFGE Local 1744, which has represented the blue-collar employees of the Naval Air Warfare Center in Indianapolis for 30 years, signed the agreement with Hughes Aircraft, which took over the naval research and modernization facility in May. The "privatization-in-place" of the center was the first full privatization of a military facility in U.S. history. The facility will handle $200 million in Navy contracts annually. About 2,000 former federal workers work at the facility, and 400 of them are covered under the AFGE-Hughes contract.

The center will be hiring additional workers from Indiana under an agreement with the city of Indianapolis. Hughes will also bring in workers from other parts of the company to work at the center as it takes on new commercial work and additional military contracts.

AFGE's contract is the first in a union plan to "follow the work" as federal facilities are turned over to private contractors under privatization-in-place plans, where military and civilian operations are privatized but contractors continue the work in the government's buildings. AFGE compensation specialist Peter Tchirkow said AFGE is developing a strategy to copy the Hughes contract at other converted facilities.

Raytheon bought Hughes recently and plans to take over its Indianapolis operations within the next year. Under the terms of the Raytheon takeover, the contract AFGE worked out with Hughes will be honored by the new owners.

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