Local 1421 Wins
Improvements In Latest
Graham Packaging Pact
SANTA ANA, Calif.
Graham Packaging workers, members of amalgamated UE Local 1421, ratified a
three-year agreement on March 3, that includes significant improvements in wages and
benefits. Shop solidarity was critical throughout the negotiations as workers at Graham
Packaging fought back attempts by their multinational-employer to force employee
contributions to their health insurance and a four-year contract.
Workers at the plastic-bottle manufacturer will receive wage increases of
4 percent, 3 percent and 2.5 percent, bringing the average wage in the shop to $18.69 an
hour by the end of the agreement.
Other improvements include increases in pension contributions of $1 a
year, $1,000 a year more in life and disability insurance and increases in shoe allowances
and lead pay bonuses.
For the first time, workers with 12 years or more seniority will be able
to take one week of their vacations in one-day increments. The new contract also reduces
the number of hours one has to work to qualify for their vacation from 1000 to 750.
Union negotiators also gained improved contract language dealing with
overtime and plant closing.
Graham workers won an increased calendar year maximum for their dental
coverage. This was a real victory since the boss demanded that any improvements in
benefits be reciprocated with employee contributions to insurance premiums, something the
membership refused to accept.
Throughout the negotiations, workers wore their UE buttons and stickers
demanding that the company "pay attention to our pension" and "co-pay no
way." Workers demanded that their supervisors call the company negotiators to let
them know they wanted a good contract. In the final hours of bargaining, the unified
committee stopped negotiations to visit the plant where they rallied workers to put the
necessary pressure on the company to bring home the final agreement. In the heat of the
action, a loud cry of solidarity came over the PA system, proclaiming in every corner of
the factory, that Graham workers support their union.
The UE committee consisted of Marianne Hart, Brian Barrington,
Vivian Collins and Margaret Schinkel. They were assisted by Field Org. Leah
Fried and Intl. Rep. Fernando Losada.