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Updated Tuesday, November 27, 2012 at 08:16 PM

Machinists win NLRB ruling as dispute with Hytek continues

By Dominic Gates
Seattle Times aerospace reporter

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has upheld 2 out of 14 complaints by the Machinists union that Kent-based aerospace company Hytek Finishes violated labor law in its dealings with the union.

Hytek President Clif Johnson said the company, a subsidiary of Bellevue-based aerospace conglomerate Esterline, will comply with a proposed NLRB settlement and negotiate with the union to avoid charges and a trial before an administrative judge.

The International Association of Machinists (IAM) represents 175 hourly workers at the plant and has been negotiating its first contract since August 2011.

Hytek employs about 245 people in Kent. Using chemicals to coat, plate or anodize surfaces, they finish parts and components made at machine shops for aerospace manufacturers, including Boeing.

Last Tuesday, the NLRB informed both parties that it found violations in two instances. The union withdrew its other charges.

The company was found to have illegally withheld information that the union asked for during the bargaining process, which Johnson said it will now provide.

The NLRB also ruled illegal three unilateral changes to work conditions that Hytek made without consulting the union. Two of those were relatively minor; the third involved introducing a new processing line without discussing potential safety issues with the union.

Johnson said those changes will be rescinded or negotiated with the union and that he expects an early settlement. The NLRB settlement requires management to commit to good-faith bargaining.

IAM chief negotiator Kevin Cummings said bargaining up to now has been stymied by the company and that the NLRB ruling “could be the breakthrough we’ve been hoping for and ... could open the door to substantive negotiations.” The two sides remain far apart on key issues, including the health-care plan, pay and whether employees can choose not to pay union dues.

Dominic Gates: (206) 464-2963 or dgates@seattletimes.com


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