Things Are ‘Stormy’ When Labor Strikes Hit Enid
Lightning strikes are unpredictable. Labor union strikes…not so much. Both, however, can be damaging.
When I was growing up in Enid, Okla., a small northwest Oklahoma town of 47,000, lightning was a normal part of life, especially in the spring. Labor strikes, on the other hand, happened only on very rare occasions. Why? Because the area’s largest employer was — and still is — Vance Air Force Base.
Today, however, I learned that conditions in Enid are much like they are in many locations across the United States: ripe for labor-related storm clouds.
It appears those clouds showed up on the radar screen in Enid Friday when, according to this article on the web site of the Enid (Okla.) News & Eagle Friday, members of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers who work at the base voted, 666-28, to go on strike today if better contract terms failed to surface over the weekend.
An article appearing today on the front page of the newspaper’s web site confirms that better terms failed to surface: Vance civilian workers start strike.
Why is this such a big deal? Because, with base closure discussions popping up every few years, labor strife at a prospective closure location can cost a community “points” with members of commissions assigned to evaluate whether bases should remain open or remain closed. And there are other pilot training bases across the country where the Department of Defense might opt to relocate the Vance mission if things get too disruptive.
Perhaps the IAMAW workers, employed by CSC Applied Technologies and its subcontractors at the base, think they are indispensable or that they can just get jobs in the oil patch until their employers come to their senses? If that’s what they’re thinking, then it’s painfully obvious to me they didn’t read an article published Saturday on the web site of the state’s largest newspaper. Among other things, it contained this disturbing news:
The number of rigs drilling for oil and natural gas in Oklahoma has plunged from 219 in September to 76, according to the latest Baker Hughes rig count. That’s a 65 percent drop.
Here’s to hoping Vance’s union workers come to their senses — and soon! Economic storm clouds are forming.