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NAPLES, Italy – Local national employees at bases in Italy staged a strike Friday after the U.S. military decided not to implement a new job classification plan.

Two labor unions, representing 3,500 workers, organized the four-hour strike, according to Italian news reports.

“The bases made plans to minimize any impact on services or operations,” said Lt. Cmdr. Carla McCarthy, spokeswoman for Navy Region Europe. “What you might have seen is a longer waiting time at some facilities.”

The strike shut down Taco Bell for the day at Aviano, where 700 national employees work, said Luisa Merlo, 31st Fighter Wing public affairs specialist.

The Joint Civilian Personnel Committee, which has a representative from each military branch, signed the plan to redo the job classification system months ago. The committee decided more issues need to be resolved with the plan, which applies to certain higher-level local national employees, McCarthy said.

The committee requested to meet with the unions to resolve the dispute, she said.

Base officials won’t know until next week how many employees participated in the strike, Merlo said. Local national employees fill a variety of jobs in such areas as food service, commissary and Morale, Welfare and Recreation.

Maria Errichiello, a union representative, is a cashier at the Capo Landing food court at Capodichino in Naples. She said workers are upset because they aren’t paid as much as some contract workers, and some jobs traditionally held by Italians are filled by Americans.

“It’s terrible,” she said. “There is a lot of discrimination.”

“We are treated just like a number,” said Giuseppe Muschetta, a food service worker at Capodichino for 13 years.

The unions — Unione Italiano Lavoritori and CISL — said they will strike again for eight hours on Sept. 2 if the issue is not resolved.

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