John Huffman, Barry
Earhart and Steve Coogan;
Within 72 hours of a rally by UE
Local 123 members outside McQuay International on Feb. 3 the union and company began
discussions aimed at resolving outstanding worker complaints. Two pending arbitration
cases have been settled by recalling the members back to work; a third case is being
reviewed and more are being discussed.
The rally on a cold, wet and snowy day took McQuay management by surprise;
bosses want to know why would Local 123 organize a rally when things are so good. But the
atmosphere on the shop floor is nothing short of tense. The rally came in response to
months of frustration in resolving grievances; Local 123 has been forced to file two
unfair labor practice charges.
Issues have included unilateral changes in the vacation policy,
combination of two departments, nearly 10 terminations that have led to arbitration cases,
and abuse of temporary transfers and subcontracting.
"It was good to be out there on that road, to be an American, to
exercise our constitutional right to freedom of speech, freedom of the press and freedom
of assembly," said Steve Coogan. "It felt good to gather and unite with my
co-workers, to know that we can count on each other, to raise our hands, our voices, and
our signs and not be written up for it because the company cannot tolerate freedom of