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As Business Improves,
So Does Local 259
Contract with Atlas


The Local 259 negotiating committee

The Local 259 negotiating committee, from left Phil Chmiel, Bill Drohan, Jay Jarvis, John Rejniak, Ralph Lecuyer, Rick Touchette and Chet Koss.

Negotiations between UE Local 259 and Atlas Copco coincided with an upswing in business that allowed for a swift and successful conclusion to bargaining. Total wage increases over three years will average $2.06 an hour.

UE members produce small portable air compressors used by repair crews on highways and bridges, as well as large compressors used in mining operations and hospitals. Some 20 months ago a global shake-out in the market led to a collapse in the world-wide demand for portable compressors, which in turn led to layoffs here.

Now, however, the shake-out is over and Atlas Copco is making a comeback. Recalls are underway, and the company expects to hire additional workers to meet the increased demand in orders. Additionally, large generators used as back-up in power plants that were formerly made at the company’s Belgium plant will be made in Holyoke.


Wages will increase 4 percent, 3.5 percent and 3.5 percent. The average wage at the expiration of the old contract was $18.36. The new average at the end of this agreement will be $20.45.

The pension benefit will increase from $24.50 to $27 a month per years of service over the term of the agreement. Life insurance increases from $22,500 to $25,000 for active employees; from $5,000 to $7,000 for retirees. The first time, the contract allows for a $300 eyeglass allowance. The shoe allowance increases from $90 to $100.

"Our pension had a cap of 35 years and we were able to get that raised to 40 years, which affects 11 union members," observes Chet Kos, a committee member. "Some of our people have a lot of seniority and adding five more years to the multiplier increases some workers’ pensions as much as $130 a month. We have been trying to get this increased for a long time and I’m pleased that we were finally successful."


"We’ve had a lot of problems in the past with the temporary transfer language and I’m really pleased with the new language we were able to negotiate," says Local 259 Pres. Rick Touchette. "It defines, strengthens and protects our seniority rights during such transfers."

The contract’s recognition clause was substantially broadened; it now guarantees recognition of the union "if the plant should move all or part of the company within a 25-mile radius of the Holyoke location." Previously the contract stated that recognition would be granted if more than 50 percent of the current members were transferred to a new location.

The UE committee consisted of Pres. Touchette, Vice Pres. John Rejniak, Treas.Phil Chmiel, Kos, Bill Drohan, Jay Jarvis and Ralph Lecuyer. They were assisted by UE Field Org. Roberta Krause.

UE News - 05/00

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