Navigation Bar

Home -> UE News -> 1999 Archives -> Article

Local 1111 Ratifies
Allen-Bradley Contract


Local 1111 members ....


Rockwell International purchased Allen-Bradley, a leading manufacturer of industrial controls in 1985. Allen-Bradley forms a major part of Rockwell’s Automation division.

Rockwell recently completed transfer of its corporate headquarters from California to Milwaukee. And, say union members, Rockwell has taken firm control of Allen-Bradley and is attempting to impose corporate-wide policies on the long-established Milwaukee plant, regardless of the bargaining and manufacturing history.

Top Rockwell management is imitating Jack Welch and General Electric, says Local 1111 Pres. Jerry Mahne

Entering negotiations under the threat of potentially hundreds of layoffs, Local 1111 secured a fair contract with Rockwell International containing job security and wage and benefit improvements. A unified membership in the plant and a strong team at the bargaining table made possible a positive outcome that includes enhanced early retirement options virtually eliminating the layoff threat.

Overwhelmingly ratified on June 13, the contract with Rockwell International covers the 1,400 members of UE Local 1111 employed at Allen-Bradley.

Negotiations, which concluded seven weeks prior to the expiration of the current agreement, began early under difficult circumstances. Job losses projected last September were compounded by an announcement in March that Rockwell intended to move production to low-wage shops at the cost of another 480 jobs.

The announced layoffs and rumors of layoffs caused anxiety among the Local 1111 membership. Long-service workers — and 75 percent of the Allen-Bradley workforce is within a decade of retirement — worried that they would be on the street before reaching retirement age.

Crucial to the negotiations’ successful outcome, union members moved beyond worry and fear, finding strength within themselves to fight for their jobs and living standards.

Local 1111 entered negotiations early with the goal of saving jobs.


The company initially proposed a six-year contract without any increases in wages, hefty insurance cost-shifting, substantial job combination, outsourcing and further transfer of production to low-wage shops in the U.S. and abroad.

Local 1111 members went into action.

Local 1111 members take to the streets ...

Local 1111 members took to the streets with homemade signs and union T-shirts that underscored their determination to win a fair contact.

Hundreds of Allen-Bradley workers, joined by retirees, participated in several lunch-time and shift-change rallies. UE members expressed themselves creatively with posters and buttons. T-shirt days in the shop made fashion statements of determination, defiance and solidarity.

"They put up an excellent fight," said Local Pres. Jerry Mahne. "There was a high degree of activity," he said. "The membership really came across."

The negotiating committee was a "we" committee, Mahne told the UE NEWS, "a committee without egos. People put their differences aside." Representing every portion of the plant, the committee included those without previous bargaining experience and those who had helped shape a number of contracts. "It was a strong team effort," Mahne said.


Local 1111 members send a message to management ...

The union secured a commitment from the company to avoid layoffs by reducing the number of jobs to be lost, offering an early retirement option and spreading out job movement over a long enough period so that normal attrition could cover any potential job loss. Further, the company agreed to take concrete steps to show its commitment to the future of the plant.

Beyond the job loss announced last fall, the total number of jobs leaving the plant has been reduced to below 300, down significantly from the projected 480. There will be no layoffs due to any of the announced job movements, unless the number of employees electing to take the enhanced early retirement provided by the contract falls far short of expectation.

The contract lowers the points needed to retire early (based on a combination of age and length of service); full retirement benefits will be available to any employee who has at least 90 points by June 30, 1999. (Normally early retirement is available when workers reach 95 points.) Anyone who would have become eligible for the next two and a half years can retire now with full benefits and no loss in pension compared to what they would have received at their normal retirement date. The supplement will be paid for at least six months, regardless of age. Anyone taking the Early Out option will be guaranteed continuation of current medical benefits through July 31, 2002. Eligible employees must apply by July 31, 1999; individual retirement dates will be scheduled between then and early 2000.

Should a layoff occur as a result of job movement, workers with 25 years’ service would be credited with both age and service points while on layoff until 95 points are reached and full retirement can begin. The written notice of layoff the company is required to give individual employees increases from one day to three days. For the first time, the union secured a severance benefit; the benefit will consist of two to 10 weeks’ pay, based on service.

Employees who are displaced from their jobs for any reason will maintain 100 percent of their rate for three years, then 90 percent thereafter.


Members: 'Keep Our Jobs Here!'

This Local 1111 member spoke for the entire workforce. Allen-Bradley workers won a contract with significant job security improvements.

As a commitment to the plant’s future, the contract calls for creation of seven new apprenticeships over the next three years. A joint union and company committee will set up a new, company-paid training program that will include on-the-job training. The program will be designed to insure that as hand assembly jobs are phased out, workers will receive the training they need to do the better-paid, semi-skilled jobs remaining in the plant.

Negotiations resolved an arbitration case regarding seniority rights during layoffs. The union and company agreed that Local 1111 members will have full seniority rights as they move into semi-skilled positions and that it will be the company’s responsibility to train workers for those positions.

The company’s insistence on "flexibility" led to clashes and eventually compromise. Faced with Rockwell’s determination to combine job classifications, Local 1111 insisted on and won protections and improvements. Three hundred workers will receive pay increases as a result of job combinations, and will retain strong seniority protection.

The contract calls for a general wage increase of 3 percent in each of the three years; in addition, workers will receive cost-of-living adjustments twice a year in each year, based on the current formula.


Union and company also clashed sharply over Rockwell’s goal of imposing a new corporate-wide approach to health care. Although Local 1111 was forced to yield ground, Rockwell did not win the across-the-board 20 percent co-payment on premiums it wanted. Current premium co-pays will be maintained until the third year of the contract; at that time, 25-year employees will begin to pay 5 percent of the premium; all others will pay 15 percent, up from 10 percent.

Workers will now have the choice of three, rather than two, health plans. Networks will be broader. There may be more out-of-pocket expenses depending on the plan selected.

The basic, company-paid life insurance increases by $3,000 to $21,000.


A cheer went up at the ratification meeting in the American Serb Memorial Hall when the negotiating committee reported that mandatory winter vacation days had finally been eliminated. Up to five vacation days may now be taken in half-day splits. Vacations will now be based on the calendar year, prorated in the first year (2000), resulting in up to an extra one-half day for employees in the first year.

Sick and personal days will also be based on the calendar year and pro-rated in 2000. Employees will receive a pro-rated number of days on their fifth anniversary. Bereavement/funeral pay will now be three days for all listed relatives.

The pension supplement is increased by $75 to $700; two additional tiers are added to the pension formula in order to give workers proper pension credit as they earn higher wages. The maximum death benefit under the pension plan goes up by $500 to $3,500.

The contract takes effect upon expiration of the existing agreement on July 31, except for the wage increases, which became effective June 14.

The UE Local 1111 bargaining committee consisted of Pres. Jerry Mahne, Plant Chief Steward Bob Rudek, Vice Pres. Ken Lochte, Second Shift Chief Steward John Friedl, Third Shift Chief Steward Tom Michalski, Skilled Trades Chief Steward John Kaczanowski, and Bargaining and Grievance Committee-member-at-large Rich Blaszczynski. They were assisted by UE District 11 Pres. Carl Rosen.

UE News - 06/99 • Photos by Local 1111 member Jim Lemke • updated 07/99

Home -> UE News -> 1999 Archives -> Article

Home • About UE • Organize! • Independent Unions • Search • Site Guide • What's New • Contact UE
UE News • Political Action • Info for Workers • Resources • Education • Health & Safety • International • Links

Copyright © 2003 UE. All Rights Reserved