Parent Union Drops Support Of Brown & Sharpe StrikersAP , Associated Press
Aug. 9, 1985 4:33 PM ET
NORTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. (AP) _ Striking machinists at Brown & Sharpe Manufacturing Co. lost the backing of their parent union, which has cut benefits to the strikers and conceded the nation's longest running major strike has failed.
The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers has informed the 350 union machinists still striking the North Kingstown firm that they will no longer receive $70 in weekly strike benefits.
The parent union also is withdrawing picket lines from the plant.
A local union official said Thursday the strikers will continue to press charges of unfair labor practices against Brown & Sharpe officials.
The strike began Oct. 19, 1981 when 1,600 machinists walked off the job over a company proposal to allow job transfers regardless of seniority.
In the nearly four years since the strike, the company has cut back sharply its machine tool operations in Rhode Island and the majority of strikers have found new jobs.
''I'm not giving up, win, lose or draw,'' said Manuel Arruda, 59, who worked at Brown & Sharpe for 33 years before the strike. ''I have 21/2 years more to retire and I'm going to wait it out.''
Robert V. Thayer, business manager for District 64 of the Machinists union, said the parent union was asked to continue its support but declined.
''As far as we're concerned the strike continues,'' Thayer said. ''But the battlefield shifts from the picket line to the courts.''
George J. Poulin, the parent union's general vice president, was unavailable for comment.
In an Aug. 6 letter to local union officials, Poulin said strike activity at Brown & Sharpe will end Aug. 15.
''It may be painful to concede, but an honest appraisal of our prospects based upon tactics employed to date does not reveal any light at the end of the tunnel,'' Poulin wrote.
The parent union will continue to pay legal costs incurred by the strikers in their attempts to reach a settlement with Brown & Sharpe.
A decision on the charges before the National Labor Relations Board is not expected for several years.
If they are upheld, the strikers would be owed millions of dollars in back pay and many would be entitled to get their jobs back.