Greenfield Tap and Die workers, members of amalgamated UE Local 274, prevailed
in their first negotiations with the plant’s new owners, Kennametal. The Pennsylvania-based corporation purchased Greenfield Industries almost two years ago.
The contract calls for general wage increases totaling $1.65 over three years: 60 cents the first year, 55 cents the second year and 50 cents the third year. In addition, a shift differential increase of 25 cents takes effect immediately. A majority of UE members at Tap and Die receive an 85-cent hourly increase the first year.
In a significant victory, union members persuaded the company to lock in current health insurance costs for the next three years. Kennametal had insisted that workers pay more per week and wanted to change insurance carriers at any time during the term of the contract. Tap and Die workers will continue to pay $7.50 a week for individual insurance, $15 for family coverage.
During many weeks of negotiations management refused to take workers’ proposals seriously. The company apparently hoped to jam a bad contract down workers’ throats — but UE Local 274 members had a different plan. On April 1, the day after expiration of the old agreement, the membership unanimously voted to reject the company’s proposal. And union members voted to notify GTD management that they were terminating the agreement in 10 days, under the terms of the contract.
The union filed an unfair labor practice charge against the company with the National Labor Relations Board, citing the company’s bad-faith bargaining. Meanwhile, UE members engaged in concerted activity on the shop floor and wore union shirts to work. Local 274 got good coverage from local news media, which also made management nervous.
That’s when bargaining got serious. The UE committee and company worked out a tentative agreement on April 9, two days before the contract was due to run out. The members ratified the contract by a 98 percent majority.
The UE negotiating committee consisted of Dick Schatz, Gerry LaValley, Bill Fredericks, Lorin Bradshaw and Gary George. They were assisted by UE Field Org. Paul Ryan.