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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Space shuttle workers strike during landing

Striking space shuttle electricians are doing what they do best. They're putting in wiring to run everything from air conditioners to microwaves, but these won't go on the shuttle; it's for their picket-line tent.

"We're going to get power here make it as nice as we can. We're here for the long haul," said striker Glenn Leib. Both sides are waiting for the other to make a concession. It appears the nearly 600 workers will still be striking during Thursday's shuttle landing.

The strikers normally deal with power and hoses after the shuttle's on the ground, work that will likely be done by replacements.

If Florida's weather doesn't cooperate Atlantis may be forced to land Friday in California or New Mexico. If that happens, the orbiter will be placed onto a 747 and hitch a ride back to Florida.

That process would mean delicate work some strikers say their replacements don't have the experience to handle.

"We have somebody that's less skilled than we are doing our work and that doesn't make us

United Space Alliance says those warnings and concerns are way off base. In fact, the company says its workers are properly trained and certified to cover whatever comes up for the landing.

USA says before the strike even happened a plan was in place to deal with this sort of eventuality.

Still union workers say training and preparation are not a replacement for years of experience.

"They’re trying to say everything's being done right, and we know it's not,” said union spokesman Bob Woods.

The union says its appealing to NASA to provide more oversight over USA's replacement workers.