Harco Labs Workers
Finally Reach Pact
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
The negotiating committee made progress in several economic issues despite
the slower-than-normal pace of bargaining caused by the new managements 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.
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
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
Under a greatly improved pension plan, the company will contribute 56
cents per hour worked up to 40 hours a week into each employees account in the first
year, 63 cents the second year and 70 cents the third year. No employee contributions are
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.