Local 770 Members
Major Pension Increase
Workers at the three Hendrickson Truck Suspension Systems plants in
Kendallville and Butler, members of UE Local 770, voted on Jan. 8 to approve a
new three-year contract.
The pension multiplier, which was $23.50, immediately jumps to $28. Local
770 stopped a company effort to eliminate employees’ option of taking their
pension in a single lump sum; all pension payment options are retained, and
the company pledged to do a better job in explaining the payment options to
workers who are about to retire.
Wages are increased by 3.5 percent, 3 percent and 3 percent over the three
years of the contract. Workers add 5 cents to both the shift premium, for a
total of 40 cents per hour, and to lead person pay supplement, an increase to
Local 770 members also won substantial increases in their safety shoe
reimbursement, raising it to $75 twice a year for production operators,
elastomer operators, and maintenance mechanics; $75 once a year for all other
workers required to wear metatarsal guards, and $50 once a year for all other
employees. The old amounts had been $45, $45 and $25. The union won a new
benefit for material handlers and laborers, who must often work outside; the
company will provide a $100 outerwear reimbursement to all workers who have
held these jobs for at least a year.
Sickness and accident coverage increases from $225 per week to $235, $240
and $245. Life insurance goes up from $25,000 last year to $27,000, $28,000
Employee contributions for medical insurance emerged as one of the toughest
issues in negotiations. Over several contracts, Local 770 members have held
those contributions at $5 a month for single coverage and $10 a month for
family coverage. The company complained that all other Hendrickson employees
are paying much more, and wanted to increase Local 770 members’ share of the
bill to 15 percent of the company’s premiums.
The local was unable to avoid any increase, but did hold it down. This
year, workers will pay $10 a month single coverage, $20 a month family; next
year those amounts go to $12 and $24; and in year three they will be $15 and
$30. (These contributions will be taken out before taxes, lessening their
Last year Hendrickson and its parent company instituted a
"no-smoking" policy in all its plants, offices and other facilities.
Local 770 had insisted that the company construct smoking shelters outside
each of the three northeastern Indiana plants. But with the arrival of winter,
workers suffered from the cold in these unheated "Butt Huts." During
negotiations, the union got the company to agree to install infrared heaters
in each of the shelters, as well as dry sprinkler systems (in case of fire)
and screen mesh over ventilation openings (to keep out birds and pests.)
The new contract will contain language further restricting the company’s
use of temporary transfers. A company plan to eliminate or combine several job
classifications was stopped; just one classification, which had been vacant
for several years, was taken out of the contract, with the stipulation that
this doesn’t mean bosses can perform the work. In response to union concerns
about supervisors who chronically violate the contract’s rule against doing
bargaining unit work, the company agreed that such offenders will be jointly
"counseled" by the local president and a top manager.
The company and union again signed Letters of Understanding carried over
from the old contract. Most significantly, the company dropped its demand to
take the Attendance Policy out of the contract, thereby waiving any right to
unilaterally change this policy. Over the term of the last contract, the union
won some important grievances on this issue because the Attendance Policy, as
part of the contract, cannot be changed without union consent.
The Local 770 negotiating committee consisted of Pres. Jamie Clark,
Vice Pres. Bob Brown, Sec.-Treas. Sharon Brown, Plant 1
Executive Board Member Lisa Lilly, Plant 2 Executive Board Member Ron
Herrick, and Plant 3 Executive Board Member Kevin Yant. They were
assisted by UE Field Org. Al Hart.
UE News - 02/00