Industrial Alloys Workers
Recoup Wages Lost
In Contract Blackout
|UE leaders at Industrial Alloys. From left, Hugo
Marroquin, second shift steward, Local 1421 Pres. Alberto Aguilar, and Chief Steward Nester Landaver.
Thanks to their union, Industrial Alloys workers in Pomona are recouping wages lost when blackouts struck the shop last
year — and the company reinterpreted the contract.
Electric deregulation in California enriched Enron but cost workers pay lost due to power shortages. A number of companies
had "voluntary power interruption" contracts with utilities like Southern California Edison that offered a low rate but gave the
utilities the right to demand shutoff of power during emergencies. The deregulation fiasco brought shutoffs.
Rolling blackouts wreaked havoc at Industrial Alloys in early 2001. Close to a third of the shop worked less than 30 hours
because of Southern California Edison’s voluntary power interrupt scheme. Shutdowns had to be immediate — even if it turned the wire
going through the oven into scrap. Interruptions lasted as much as six hours.
Previously, Alloys had responded to power interruptions by assigning workers to clean-up and other work, so that no pay
was lost. But in the corporate-created "energy crisis" of 2000-2001, the company chose to unilaterally reinterpret the contract’s
report-in/call-in provisions. Forty-four workers lost pay in amounts ranging between $10.69 and $404.95.
UE Local 1421 made several attempts to resolve the problem, leading to the filing of a large group grievance and union
efforts to negotiate a special side agreement. The company refused to budge, however.
Victory came with an arbitration decision, based on the union’s solid case and irrefutable testimony. The Local 1421
members at Industrial Alloys received more than $5,000 on March 14. As stewards compared the checks with UE documentation, they realized
that additional wages may still be owed to workers — and went back to the company to insist on full payment.
Manuel Eudave, former chief steward, pursued this grievance to victory. Hugo Marroquin, second shift steward,
and District 10 Pres. Marianne Hart testified at the arbitration hearing.
UE News - 4/02