Thursday, Hamilton Sundstrand makes a major announcement that is expected to change the future of manufacturing for one of Rockford's largest employers.
163 jobs could potentially be heading to Singapore. Within that number 128 of those positions are union jobs and 35 are office jobs. The bottom line is money in Rockford the average wage is $25 in Singapore it's $8.
The announcement came at about 9:30 a.m. verbally and by an e-mail. 1st, 2nd, and 3rd shift workers were given the option to stay or get paid and leave. Company spokeswoman Melissa Marsden says the company has the intention to relocate Rockford manufacturing operations of Hamilton Sundstrand. Now the word "intention" is being used right now instead of definitely because on Friday negotiations begin between the company and the union Local 592. Over the next 45 days the union will try to persuade area management that these jobs should stay in Rockford.
Ted Dever, President of the United Auto Workers Local 592 says, “If the decision hasn’t changed we enter into effects bargaining to lessen the impact on families that are affected.”
If a final decision to leave is made in 45 days these machining jobs would start to head overseas in the third quarter of 2006. The only jobs that would be left at Hamilton Sundstrand by 2007 will be engineering jobs and assembling and testing. Union leaders say that both sides probably have bitter feelings that stem back to 2003. That's when 800 workers were locked for more than a month when the union rejected a new contract. The workers finally agreed and got a 16% pay raise till 2008. Worldwide Hamilton Sundstrand employs 16,000 people and brings in about $4 million in sales each year. Hamilton Sundstrand was bought by United Technology in 1999. At that point the union represented about 950 workers once these jobs move to Singapore only 350 people will be a part of the union. The company is a prime contractor for Nasa's space suit/life support system.