Call for Reinvestment, Too
Local 218 Members
At Fellows Corp. Ratify
Gain $1.78 Average
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
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.
DEMAND FOR REINVESTMENT
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 unions 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.
SUBCONTRACTING LANGUAGE STRENGTHENED
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
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