As Business Improves,
So Does Local 259
Contract with Atlas
The Local 259 negotiating committee, from left Phil
Bill Drohan, Jay Jarvis, John Rejniak, Ralph Lecuyer, Rick Touchette and Chet
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
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
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
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
UE News - 05/00