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Harco Labs Workers
Finally Reach Pact

BRANFORD, Conn.

UE negotiators at Harco were Regina Thomas, Crystal Shorey, James Hobart, Paul Chaplin and Ken Lafogg.

Members of amalgamated UE Local 299 employed by Harco Laboratories have ratified a new — and six months overdue — three-year agreement that contains impressive gains in several economic and language areas.

UE members entered negotiations last fall expecting to make progress after three years of business recovery for their wire and cable shop. In the previous negotiations, Harco workers agreed to a modest wage increase to assist the struggling company’s survival.

The negotiating committee made progress in several economic issues despite the slower-than-normal pace of bargaining caused by the new management’s insistence on numerous language changes. But then the company proposed replacing guaranteed wage increases with a full merit-pay system, just a few weeks before contract expiration.

Management Surprised
By UE-Style Unity

UE members wore stickers in the shop declaring "Merit Pay — No Way," and signed petitions registering their support for guaranteed wage increases. A rally outside that drew many local activists and coverage by New Haven area news media surprised a management not used to UE-style negotiations.

Talks dragged on for months beyond the expiration of the previous agreement as the company refused to budge from its position. The UE committee devised several creative proposals in attempts at compromise but without success. Finally, company and union agreed to a hybrid wage system that includes guaranteed and merit increases each year. The average wage increase in the first year will be 3.5 percent and for the final two years will be 1.5 percentage points higher than the Connecticut inflation rate. The committee also won strong language that protects workers from unfairly calculated merit raises.

Language and Benefit Improvements

The new contract includes better anti-discrimination language, guarantees overtime pay for all Saturday work, extends paid breaks from 10 to 15 minutes, adds Columbus Day as a paid holiday, adds a fifth week of vacation for 25 years of service in addition to an expedited vacation schedule, increases the life insurance and disability insurance, extends full (3-day) bereavement leave to sisters-in-law and brothers-in-law, increases the number of stewards from three to four and improves jury duty pay and the attendance policy.

Under a greatly improved pension plan, the company will contribute 56 cents per hour worked up to 40 hours a week into each employee’s account in the first year, 63 cents the second year and 70 cents the third year. No employee contributions are required.

After a grueling six months of negotiations, UE members at Harco Labs are ready to get back to the job of strengthening their local union so that their income and job security will improve as the company continues to make an economic comeback. The UE committee consisted of Paul Chaplin, James Hobart, Ken Lafogg, Crystal Shorey and Regina Thomas. They were assisted by Field Org. Steve Hinds and Intl. Rep. Harry Authelet.

UE News - 04/98


Home -> UE News -> 1999 Archives -> Article

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