Local 151 Continues
Struggle After Expiration;
Gains Decent Contract
Local 151 members conducted an in-plant struggle for nearly
three months beyond contract expiration, succeeding in substantially improving
the Aetna Bearing’s offer and gaining an acceptable new three-year
The company argued that low sales and high insurance premiums
prevented wage increases of more than 2 percent a year, and only if workers
started paying a sizeable weekly contribution toward their health insurance.
Aetna Bearing supplies the agricultural implement industry, which is stagnant.
Workers overwhelmingly rejected this proposal and kept up the
pressure for a better deal through stickers, petitions and directly voicing
their concerns to management and the owner.
The owner convened a meeting in the shop to explain his
position. But workers, with fresh memories of boom years for the business
following other contract settlements, made it clear they weren’t buying his
'NO SUBSTANDARD CONTRACT!'
The previous contract expired Sept. 30. As the shop climate
became ever more tense, management recognized that workers were not going to
agree to a substandard settlement. Additional talks took place. A final round
of negotiations in mid-December led to substantial improvements and a
settlement that gained approval by a narrow margin.
The contract contains wage increases of 2 percent the first
year, 3 percent the second year and 3 percent the third year. The first year
wage increase was retroactive to Oct. 1; workers also gained a $100 signing
bonus. In addition, the company pledged to grant another $150 bonus if sales
in 2001 equal the 1997 level.
UE members maintained all of the benefit levels of their HMO
plan, but they will have to pay $3 a week the first year, $4 the second and $5
in the third towards their coverage, whether single or family.
Workers gained significantly in other benefit areas. The
company’s contribution to the pension plan will increase by about 15 percent
over the life of the contract. Sickness and accident benefits increase from
$255 to $280. Life insurance rises from $26,000 to $28,000 the first year, to
$30,000 in the second year and $32,000 in the third. Company payment for
safety shoes and prescription safety glasses both increase substantially.
The contract language on bereavement leave is clarified to
ensure the full amount of paid days off are received if the death occurs on a
weekend, holiday or vacation.
The Local 151 bargaining committee consisted of Pres. Cliff
Hall, Chief Steward Bob Stasiw, Vice Pres. Juan Dominguez,
Fin. and Rec. Sec. Ken Piekosz and committee member Headley Hall.
They were assisted by UE District 11 Pres. Carl Rosen.
UE News - 01/00