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Hair strike: Barbers at Colo. air base on strike

By Dan Elliott

Associated Press

Published: Thursday, March 22 2012 1:20 p.m. MDT

Striking barbers wave at motorist as they picket at the main entrance to Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora, Colo., on Thursday, March 22, 2012.

Ed Andrieski, Associated Press

Enlarge photo»

DENVER — Eight barbers at an Air Force base outside Denver say their private employer wants to trim their paychecks, so they're on strike.

The barbers and other members of United Food and Commercial Workers union picketed Thursday at an entrance to Buckley Air Force Base.

They said their employer, Gino Morena Enterprises, wants to shave their commissions by 5 percent for the second time in two years, even though the company is profitable.

The San Francisco-based company didn't immediately return a phone call. Its website said it employs more than 1,700 barbers and stylists at shops and salons on military installations across the U.S. and in Guam.

Military personnel can still get their buzz cuts at Buckley. One barber remained on the job and managers were also giving haircuts, union spokesman Mark Belkin said.

Belkin said the Buckley barbers work solely on commission and earn $12,000 to $32,000 a year.

"I can't afford not to (go on strike)," said Greta McIntire, a single mother of two who said she earns about $26,000 annually working four days a week as a Buckley barber. "I need to do this for my kids so I can make enough money to support them."

About 12,000 people work at Buckley, including civilians and members of the Air Force, Army, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard and National Guard. A breakdown wasn't immediately available, but about 3,500 work for a top-secret satellite listening post.

Buckley has only one barber shop. Workers at a separate beauty salon weren't involved in the strike, Belkin said.

A 180-page stack of Air Force rules for dress and personal appearance says men's hair can't rise more than 1 1/4 inches from their scalps and has to be tapered at the neck and sides. Buzz cuts, clean-shaven heads and flat-tops are allowed. Mohawks, mullets and cornrows are out.

Women's hair has to be at least 1 inch long and can't be more than 3 inches in bulk.

Follow Dan Elliott at htpp://twitter.com/DanElliottAP

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