The Engineers Association of ARMA (EAA) was founded in March of 1951. Unionization of the plant had begun in 1950 when production employees working at ARMA's Brooklyn Plant became Local 460. The company was founded by Arthur P. Davis in 1918 was and continued to be a defense contractor, initially manufacturing searchlights and, subsequently, fire control systems and gyroscopic equipment for the Navy.
The engineers were compelled to unionize, when the company, to attract professionals during the Korean War labor shortage, paid new engineers as much as senior employees. The engineers decided to form an independent union and on July 11, 1951 the EAA called its first strike. The company had made a settlement with Local 460, and did not see a need to negotiate with the engineers and technicians of ARMA. After a week they were taken seriously by the company. The contract they negotiated provided for a union shop, 25 percent average wage increase, improved benefits, and a model agreement for other engineers, which the EAA had to fight the Wage Stabilization Board and the employer to fulfill. During this period the union helped to form the Engineers and Scientists of America (ESA) which aspired to join engineers nationwide for the purpose of strengthening collective bargaining. (The ARMA engineers later became disenchanted with this organization and withdrew in 1956.)
The expiration of the contracts in 1953 brought the union's bitterest strike. The IUE production local called a strike, and the EAA voted to honor their picket lines. The strike lasted 10 weeks, and some of the engineers were arrested during the first week's violence. After 8 weeks, the production and clerical unions reached a settlement, and the EAA then "officially" went on strike. The other unions honored the EAA picket lines, and a settlement was reached 10 days later.
Again in 1955, when the contract expired, a strike erupted. This time the strike lasted thirteen weeks. After this strike the EAA decided that it would have more influence if it banded together with the other unions in the plant by joining the International Union of Electrical Workers. On February 1, 1956 the ARMA engineers were chartered as IUE Local 418.
The union remained strong and grew in membership from 600 to 1900 as ARMA won defense contracts. ARMA moved its quarters from Bush Terminal to Roosevelt Field, having a total of 6000 employees at its peak of production.
Local 418 successfully negotiated contracts with ARMA with the assistance of their attorney, Stephen Vladeck whom they hired in 1953. He won significant cases for the engineers and technicians of ARMA, including liberalizing the company's policy on security clearance and on admitting female technicians.
Industrial relations improved somewhat, but the union was forced to take strike votes in many of the ensuing contract expiration years because of last minute deadlocked negotiations. The union went on strike for 15 weeks on October 10,1981, mainly because of issues that arose as a result of the merger with United Technologies (see below). The union's fortunes however, were closely tied to the ARMA management which began having problems attracting Pentagon contracts as early as 1953, when the Navy lost confidence in the company's product. The first lay off was in 1959. ARMA was successful in attracting Air Force contracts to produce B.52 tail defense and guidance systems until the middle sixties, after which no further major military contracts were secured. In the 1970's ARMA attracted some private sector work for Lockheed Aircraft, Delta and All Nippon Airlines. ARMA veterans suggest that the company was accustomed to dealing with inflated military budgets and could not compete well in the private market. In 1973 the company was sold to United Technologies and the ARMA division gradually was reduced in size, eventually being closed on October 1, 1983. As a result of this closing, the union was disbanded in October, 1983.