Navigation Bar

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

Local 123 Gives
‘Thumbs Up’ To Contract,
Renewed Solidarity

Unity and Solidarity ... ... at UE Local 123

UE Local 123 members rallied, marched and otherwise made their concerns crystal clear to management in six long and difficult weeks of negotiations that culminated in an acceptable settlement this month. The union membership dumped takeaways, made progress in contending with outsourcing and gained the retirement plan they demanded.


Local 123 members gave "thumbs up" to a new three-year contract in voting on April 16, approving the agreement with McQuay International 188-88.

Throughout the six weeks of negotiations, UE members at the air conditioning plant gave "thumbs up" to renewed solidarity, using the gesture to indicate support for the union’s bargaining goals.

Solidarity was strengthened by improved communications, several rallies and meetings and in-shop activity. Concerns about outsourcing and an inadequate retirement plan fueled the Local 123 campaign for a decent contract.


Local 123 began conducting weekly stewards’ meetings. The local’s newsletter, The Bulldog, came out daily during negotiations, to report on the nearly daily bargaining sessions. With the help of Asst. Chief Steward Jack Chandler, Local 123 began an e-mail message system, and instituted a phone tree.

Retirees Ervin Bryant and Wendell Roberts spoke in solidarity and support at local meetings. Jim Flickenger of the Independent Brotherhood of DuPont Workers and Allen Laymen of AFSCME Local 3983 came before Local 123 members to pledge their support for the UE effort.

Meanwhile, negotiations were proceeding slowly. Four weeks into the talks, McQuay presented the union with 18 pages of attacks on wages, seniority, hours of work and benefits.

UE members mobilized on the shop floor, sending a message to bosses they wanted a decent contract. Those messages were often creative and worker-driven, not union-initiated. McQuay workers made their own buttons and signs. They unleashed periods of noise and moments of silence.


Union members also marched through the plant, four times on the day before the contract expired. Twenty-five took part in the first march; on the second time through, more than 70 paraded through the cafeteria as management personnel sat down to eat.

Two plant-gate rallies boosted morale and drew extensive media coverage; the second, on the eve of contract expiration was the biggest. In a strong display of determination, some Local 123 members camped out in their strike headquarters while waiting for information from the bargaining table.

"I don’t want to go on strike," said Ray Stroop, a 35-year worker. "Nobody does. But sometimes you have to stand up for what is right. I wouldn’t be out here if I didn’t think it was right," he told a newspaper reporter at one of the union’s rallies.


Negotiations went 24 hours the final day; at about 6:30 a.m. the union committee agreed to a settlement subsequently ratified by the membership. The new contract contains wage increases of 40, 45 and 45 cents. The union gains a better health package, with deductibles cut, premiums frozen for 18 months, and coverage increasing from a 80/20 to 90/10 employer-employee split.

Local 123 made an advance in its efforts to eliminate outsourcing, winning a contract language which provides for a committee to analyze all outsourcing proposals — and consider alternatives — before a part is sent out.

A 401(k) plan, a major goal for many McQuay workers, is also achieved in this contract.

Serving on the Local 123 negotiating committee were Pres. Gary Wood, Vice Pres. George Bunch, First Shift Chief Steward Fred Ashby, Second Shift Chief Steward Dennis "Bubba" Grimm, Sec. Brenda Shoemaker and Fin. Sec. Danny "Beetle" Bailey. They were assisted by UE Field Org. George Waksmunski and Intl. Rep. Bruce Klipple.

UE News - 04/00

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

Home • About UE • Organize! • Independent Unions • Search • Site Guide • What's New • Contact UE
UE News • Political Action • Info for Workers • Resources • Education • Health & Safety • International • Links

Copyright © 2003 UE. All Rights Reserved