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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.

UE News - 04/99

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