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Call for Reinvestment, Too —
Local 218 Members
At Fellows Corp. Ratify
New Contract;
Gain $1.78 Average


Fellows workers listen to lunch-time report on negotiations
Fellows workers listen to lunch-time report on negotiations by Roger Conant. The rank and file received daily in-shop progress reports.

Members of amalgamated UE Local 218 employed by Fellows Gear Shaper Co. (the Fellows Corp.) ratified a new three-year contract on Jan. 16, 2000. These negotiations were marked by sharp in-shop activities by the membership in support of the negotiating committee.

The union gained strengthened protection against subcontracting and issued a clear demand for reinvestment in the business.

The new contract provides for yearly wage increases of 70 cents the first year, 3.5 percent the second year and 3.5 the third year, for a total of 12 percent. The average hourly rate going into negotiations was $14.41, yielding an average increase of $1.78.


The pension will be increased by $1 per year and will stand at $26 a month per year of service by the end of the contract. During the second year the company will make available a 401K plan; the employer will pay all administrative fees.

Improvements are also made to the accident and sickness benefit and life insurance. The dental plan is increased to $1,000 per year coverage for each family member.

The contract also involved switching from a Blue Cross indemnity plan to a Blue Cross HMO plan. The new plan is 100 percent paid by the company and has no deductibles. The union negotiated several changes to the HMO plan, including reimbursement to employees of the $5 office visit fee. The prescription plan is also upgraded to a $2 charge for all prescriptions, whether generic or brand name. A 90-day supply will cost $5.

Although the HMO plan is the equivalent or better than the previous indemnity plan, there was much anger towards the company among the membership for demanding the switch. Fellows workers had good reason to be angry. Six years ago the union was willing to work with the company to hold down insurance costs but the company refused over the years to implement many of the ideas the union members generated. For the last four years the company has not even convened the cost containment committee.


Of prime concern to the members was the state of the factory. Since the purchase of the century-old company 10 years ago by the Goldman Group, the owner has not invested any money in updating or repairing equipment. Prior to the negotiations the union started a program of cataloging what repairs and maintenance are needed for each machine — crucial information used to back up the union’s demand for a program of machine rebuilding and repair.

During negotiations the company announced the launching of a program to rebuild and upgrade the "core machinery" in the plant. This led to long discussions over which machinery was core and what would happen to the other machinery. The union expressed opposition to any program that would allow some machinery to continue to degenerate and lead to subcontracting of those operations.


As a result, these negotiations produced strengthened contract language regarding subcontracting. Previously, the company had to meet with the union if subcontracting would cause the layoff of any employee. Now in addition to that language, the company must notify the union of any planned subcontracting that could be attributed to the "core machinery" concept and enter into negotiations with the union over keeping the work in the plant.

Since the company announced their program to rebuild and upgrade the core machinery, the union focused its demands on the rest of the machinery. New contract language defines preventative maintenance that the company will perform upon request.

The negotiating committee consisted of Chief Steward Ray Stocker Jr., Vice Pres. Brian White, Assistant Chief Steward Francis Bushaw, Shop Secretary Ed Lohutko, Alvin Anderson, Roger Conant, Albert Dube Jr., Michael Dwinell, Francis Pecor, Rollin Severance. They were assisted by Intl. Rep. David Cohen.

UE News - 02/00

Home -> UE News -> 2000 Archives -> Article

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