An overwhelming majority of UE Local 111 members recently ratified a new two-year
agreement with Gardner Cryogenics. The UE members who work at plants here and in Bethlehem build and refurbish large containers and truck trailers that transport liquid helium. Gardner Cryogenics is a division of Air Products and Chemicals Inc.
As a result of the so-called Asian crisis and the sluggish European economy, a third of the workforce was laid off a week before contract expiration. Nevertheless, the members and negotiating committee remained determined to secure a fair settlement.
The contract provides a general wage increase of 47 cents the first year and an additional 43 cents the second year.
The defined pension plan multiplier will increase $2 the first year and $1 the second year to reach $34 per years of service. Service credit towards pension benefits is improved; UE members will gain up to 26 weeks of credit while out on workers compensation leave.
Weekly sickness and accident insurance increases $20 a year to $370 per week. Again, language is improved for this benefit as well, with the result that workers will be covered sooner. Gardner workers also gain an additional $1,000 each in life insurance and Accidental Death and Dismemberment insurance, bringing the benefit to $25,000. The safety shoe/tool allowance is increased by $10 to $120 a year.
Negotiations changed contract language governing transfers; workers will receive the higher rate of two jobs after 4 hours, instead of the previous 2 days.
A newly negotiated understanding represents a unique approach to temporary jobs and layoffs. When bargaining unit members are facing layoff, and both company and union agree, affected workers can take temporary assignments on a temporary basis. The most senior employees in the affected area will have the first choice. Those who choose the temporary position will continue to receive all contractual benefits, even if they work only one hour in a month.
The committee strongly felt it is better to have union members offered any temporary work, with full benefits and collecting partial unemployment, as opposed to the remaining members working overtime while a layoff is underway. Local 111 members agreed that this agreement allowed for the correct use of temporary workers in a union shop.
The UE Local 111 negotiating committee consisted of Pres. Duane
Yaindl, Vice Pres. Paul Krajcirick, Rec. Sec. Dennis Nagy, Chief Steward Jim
Reph, Walt Reppert, Allentown steward, and Wayne Filchner, steward. They were assisted by UE Intl. Rep. Bruce