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Local 715
Members Gain
With Three-Year Contract

EDON, Ohio

The Local 715 bargaining committee reviews its proposals ...
The Local 715 bargaining committee reviews its proposals. From left, Diane Sprow, Tim Whitney, Pat Berry, Marty Swander and Randy Nester.

A new three-year agreement with the Edon operations of Simpson Industries, a manufacturer of automobile parts, provides UE Local 715 members with increased compensation and pensions, and creates a skilled trades program that will add work to the bargaining unit.

The company came into negotiations insisting it must have a "zero cost contract" and complaining of increased competition in the auto-parts industry and pressure from auto manufacturers for price reductions from parts producers. The company’s alarmist message was amplified by a noisy proxy battle going on during the contract negotiations, in which an outside corporate raider group was soliciting stockholders’ votes for its plan to take over the company and auction it off. (The proxy challenge to management was defeated by stockholders later in April.)

The Local 715 bargaining committee and members stood firm in their insistence that workers deserved economic gains. Throughout the weeks of bargaining, members wore stickers saying, "We earned it." And on March 29, two days before expiration, the 240 members of the union almost unanimously rejected the company’s "Best Settlement Offer," forcing managers back to the table and to produce a more generous offer more.


Workers defeated persistent company efforts to impose mandatory overtime, and stopped the company’s attempt to eliminate a contract provision which says the plant will not run during union membership meetings (which are held the third Thursday of the month, during the last half hour of first shift and the first half-hour of second shift).

Workers received an immediate 30 cent wage increase effective April 1. In the second and third years, workers will receive quarterly bonuses of up to 20% of the gains of the business, with a minimum guarantee of 1.33% of gross wages. This plant performance bonus will combine with an existing "Alternative Compensation Plan," in place over the previous year and a half, which had paid the average union member an average of $580 per quarter, or over $2,300 per year. (Based on actual results, had the new added plan been in place in 1999, it would have paid an additional $1,450 per employee for the year.)


The company also took a hard line on pensions, offering only meager increases, covering only service after the date of the new contract. Union members were eventually able to increase the pension multiplier by $2 immediately, to $34 per month per years of service, for all service since April 6, 1992; service before that date continues to earn a $26 multiplier.

Union members did take a hit on health insurance costs. Annual out-of-pocket maximums increase to $1,000 single/$2,000 family in the PPO plan that covers most members. Employee contributions will increase to 15% of premiums in 2001 and 20% in 2003 (the Company had tried to get 20% next year.)


Major gains were made in the implementation of a Skilled Trades Program. Before these negotiations, Maintenance, Tool Room and Inspector classifications paid less than production operators. The new program will add 80 cents immediately to the wage rates of all maintenance and tool grind workers with at least four years’ experience. Inspectors get an additional 50 cents for four years in their classification.

Employees in all three classifications will earn additional pay increases by either taking courses (provided by the company) or passing proficiency tests in any of nine skill areas for each classification. Demonstrating proficiency in all nine areas will mean $1.45 more per hour for maintenance and tool room workers, and $1 per hour for inspectors, but workers get a pay increase for each skill area they have mastered. The combination of experience increases and skill increases can increase the pay of maintenance and tool room workers by as much as $2.25 per hour, and inspectors by $1.50.


The program went into effect immediately. However, based on earlier commitments by the company to implement the Maintenance and Tool Room programs by Jan. 1, 2000, many of those workers received retroactive pay increases. By increasing the skill base of Local 715 members, the Skilled Trades Program is expected to bring previously outsourced work into the plant, and to bring work that had been done by salaried quality control technicians into the bargaining unit, to be done by union inspectors.

The new contract also creates a new position of Multi-Operator, which will pay $16.84 — 50 cents more than production operator, and with company-provided training. These employees will program CNC machines and train other employees in CNC operations. Much of this work had been done by exempt engineers, so this provision will also add more skilled work to the UE Local 715 bargaining unit. "We feel that by enhancing our membership’s Skilled Trades and CNC programming abilities, we’re really increasing the job security of all of the Edon workforce," says Local 715 President Marty Swander.

The new contract improves life insurance by $3,000 to $25,000 by the third year and weekly disability pay by $20 to $310 by the third year. Workers will be able to take all of their vacation on a single-day basis if they wish, and it will become easier for workers to cancel scheduled vacation and reschedule it for later. The company agreed that, when it challenges an employee’s workers’ compensation claim, and the employee wins, the company will pay the worker for time lost from work to attend hearings. The company also signed a letter of intent to continue providing a union office on company property.

The UE Local 715 negotiating committee consisted of Pres. Marty Swander, Vice Pres. Pat Berry, Randy Nester, Diane Sprow and Tim Whitney. They were assisted by Field Org. Alan Hart.

UE News - 06/00

Home -> UE News -> 2000 Archives -> Article

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