With Three-Year Contract
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.
NO MANDATORY OVERTIME
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.)
BIG GAINS IN SKILLED TRADES
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.
INCREASES JOB SECURITY
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
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
UE News - 06/00