At Stepan Convince
|A spirited and determined Local 1421
membership at Stepan Co. organized for a contract with solid improvements.
When new Stepan Co. managers sought takeaways, an active and
determined membership successfully delivered the message that workers at this
chemical plant expected substantial improvements in their contract. Stepan
workers, members of amalgamated UE Local 1421, achieved substantial wage and
pension increases and an end to mandatory overtime in a new agreement that
took effect Nov. 16.
"I feel we did very well," Chief Steward Bryan
Martindale tells the UE NEWS. Adding to the sense of
accomplishment are wage increases considerably higher than raises received by
some management personnel.
GAIN IN WAGES
Wages will increase by 4, 3.5 and 3 percent, a cumulative
straight-time hourly increase of more than $2.35. At contract expiration in
November 2003, wage rates will range from $20.67 to $24.60. Shift
differentials will be raised from 50 to 65 cents and from 60 to 75 cents. The
contract ends the annual attendance bonus and raises the monthly bonus from
$50 to $100. Workers can be tardy twice a month without loss of the attendance
A 35-percent increase takes the pension multiplier from $27.50
to $37 a month. The service cap is raised from 30 years to 35 years.
Stepan agrees to provide company-paid accidental death and
dismemberment coverage to each employee. Under the contract, annual physicals
will be taken outside working hours and workers will be paid for three hours.
The annual safety shoe allowance is increased from $150 to $170.
Local 1421 members secured significant changes in contract
language, including elimination of mandatory overtime and improved union
leave. Training time is increased from 60 to 90 days for job bid transfers and
recall placements. Floating holidays will be individually scheduled by
workers. Severance pay is increased to 15 weeks’ pay for 15 years or more of
service. Bereavement leave is expanded to include grandchildren and spouse’s
‘ONE OF THE TOUGHEST’
The UE negotiating committee rejected and resisted proposed
takeaways, including a lengthened probation period, shortened union leave, and
a four-year contract.
"I have been a member of the negotiating committee at
Stepan for 21 years and this contract negotiation was one of the
toughest," says Chief Steward Martindale. In addition to the takeaways,
the union committee faced a new corporate human resources director. "For
the last 20 years we had been dealing with the same HR people, which made
things a little easier every time," Martindale points out. "This was
also a first, but because of rock solid support from our members, they were
not able to take anything from us."
Adding to the effort, Martindale says, was "a very good
support committee" that mobilized membership support. An energized
membership made use of lots of stickers and buttons, and a petition supporting
the negotiating committee
PARKING LOT ‘INVASION’
Early one morning workers’ cars "invaded" the
management’s front spaces in the parking lot, armed with messages on poster
boards. All of this drew a big reaction from corporate and plant negotiators
— who drew the blinds rather than look out at the union’s message all day.
The UE negotiating committee consisted of Martindale, Gary
Edwards and Keith Mills and was assisted by Intl. Rep. Leanna
Noble. The committee acknowledges the assistance of UE Research Dir. Lisa
UE News - 2/02