Hamilton Sundstrand

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Some Hamilton Sunstrand workers are gearing up for what are expected to be tough contract negotiations. Talks between company officials and union leaders got underway Thursday. Workers say they're optimistic but preparing for the worst.

This is the first time contracts for some 200 Hamilton Sunstrand workers will be negotiated in Connecticut away from home here in Rockford which has some workers feeling a bit anxious. That's why the union workers organized a March of Solidarity in front of the company's Rockford offices.

Union members say they want to send a message to administrators here that workers are united in negotiating a fair contract. The union represents machinists, assemblers, technicians and lab operators. The worker's contract does not expire until May 18, but the union wants to get their message across earlier on because of the situation.

The workers say a strike would be the last possible resort but they're prepared to strike if necessary. Union members say the company has been reporting good earnings and should be able to give workers a fair contract. The Rockford plant is Hamilton Sundstrand's second largest facility, employing about 2,700 people.

The negotiations that started today affect about 250 of the Rockford-based employees.