The Story of UAW Local 1069
On May 22nd, 1956 UAW Local 1069 was certified and thereby recognized as the legal representative for the purpose of collective bargaining for the employees of The Vertol Aircraft Corporation. The courage of the 2874 employees who stood up to the harsh realities of yesterday’s workplace conditions should serve as a constant reminder of the sacrifices, hardships and intimidating tactics commonly used by corporations hell bent on nullifying the voices of working men and women today.
Through the early development of helicopters to today’s most innovative designs in rotorcraft history, the men and women of Local 1069 have been at that forefront of vertical lift technology.
The members of Local 1069 have been producing military helicopters for the United States Government for over 50 years. The helicopters have been responsible for protecting the lives of our soldiers as well as serving the humanitarian needs and democratic principles of people worldwide.
Showing their ability to adapt and learn when the military need for rotorcraft dwindled, workers successfully manufactured transit rail cars in the 1970’s, commercial helicopters for civilian and logging purposes and became a premier manufacturer of wing assemblies for several models of Boeing Commercial Jetliners.
As Local 1069 members went through both business and ownership changes with first Piasecki, then Vertol and finally Boeing, the membership persevered through several hiring and layoff cycles. During the Vietnam War Era in the 60s, membership eclipsed 7,000. By the early 1980’s slightly more than 1200 workers remained. With the introduction of a newly designed Chinook and the revolutionary V-22 Osprey, membership swelled to over 3400 members in 1990 only to have management attempt to close our plant when roughly 1150 members remained in early 2000.
With a new Employee Involvement Program negotiated in 1999 the untapped skills and knowledge of the members were being used for the first time. Teams of employees were formed to draft ideas that could improve upon rigid old school management techniques and improve workplace efficiency. By 2002 the proof was in the performance. The EI Program started to show results. The company began saving money and realized that workers could think as well as work. The decision to close the facility was thwarted by the determination and willingness of the UAW to embrace progressive changes in the workplace.
Seven years later UAW Local 1069’s membership has again re-written their legacy taking the Boeing Rotorcraft Division from worst to first. This division is now a model in industry and continues to evolve as the finest rotorcraft company in the world.
The successes of Local 1069 have come from its’ workers organized together to bargain collectively. The solidarity of this membership standing behind their Union Leadership at the negotiating table continues to be the driving force between winning and losing.
UAW Local 1069 is a cooperative and supportive partner in the surrounding communities. Through the generous contributions of our members, tens of thousands of dollars and countless hours of volunteerism have been donated to both charitable and veteran causes.
UAW Local 1069 has chosen to fight the toughest battles leading its membership into the fray for social and economic justice, a safe work environment, a voice in the workplace where members are treated with dignity, and the capability to face their corporate partner on even ground. Local 1069 will never cease in leading the way towards a better life for working families.