UE Moves Forward
By DOROTHY JOHNSON
President, UE Local 299
NORTH HAVEN, Conn.
The UE Local 299 negotiating committee
which recently concluded negotiations with Circuit-Wise. From left, Carlos
Zayas, Linda Thiel, Marion DeMaio, Willie Vasquez, Dorothy Johnson, Tina
Jendrzewski and Marion Lattaker. Unavailable for the photo were Kathy Bridges,
Bessie Huckaby and Charles Provite.
The members of amalgamated UE Local 299 employed by
Circuit-Wise voted on May 13 to accept a four-year agreement with
Circuit-Wise. To achieve this contract, union members had to let the company
know from day one that they refused any givebacks — and they did: through
strong, militant and loud rallies both inside and outside the plant, with informational picket lines, stickers and buttons, newsletters, honking car
horns and blowing loud whistles throughout the shop.
In the tense, final days of negotiations, contract expiration
was extended from May 5 to May 12. The negotiating committee went through the
shop informing everyone that more noise was needed from the members — and
that’s exactly what happened. Members shouted chants in the cafeteria,
banged on the tables, set off their car alarms and blew loud whistled in
unison. Their message to the company was clear: "We need more money in
the pension plan!"
In addition, the company knew that UE’s many supporters
outside the plant were ready and willing to join Circuit-Wise workers for a
By the early morning of Saturday, May 13, the company
president directed his chief negotiator to do whatever it took to get a
contract. A tentative agreement was reached at 3:30 a.m.
The new contract contains wage increases of 3.5 percent the
first year, 3 percent in the second year, 3.3 percent in the third year and 3
percent in the fourth year.
A major victory for the union came with the company’s
agreement, for the first time, to put real money into workers’ 401(k)
accounts. In the first year, the company will match each week $.50 on the
dollar up to 1 percent of an employee’s weekly salary. In the second year,
this improves to 2 percent of salary, and in the third and fourth years it
rises to 3 percent. The company has resisted such contributions from the
The union won improvements in other areas important to its
Circuit-Wise will address long-standing health and safety
problems in the plant. An outside expert will study and fix heating, cooling
and air-quality problems. The company also agrees to changes in workstations
to minimize the risk of repetitive motion disorders, a major problem at
In addition, the contact contains less restrictive language
for leaves of absence, a big issue for many of members who are recent
The new agreement also increases life insurance, short-term
disability and the safety shoe allowances.
The Local 299 negotiating committee consisted of Pres. Dorothy
Johnson, Vice Pres. Tina Jendrzewski, First Chief Steward Marion
DeMaio, Second Chief Steward Kathy Bridges, Stewards Willie
Vasquez, Carlos Zayas, Charles Provite, and Bessie
Huckaby, Shop Committee member Marion Lattaker, and Contract
Support Committee members Linda Thiel and Ben Young. They were
assisted by UE Field Org. Mark Meinster.
UE News - 06/00