Local 1111 Ratifies
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
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
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
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.
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
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
Employees who are displaced from their jobs for any reason
will maintain 100 percent of their rate for three years, then 90 percent
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
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
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
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
UE News - 06/99 • Photos by Local 1111
member Jim Lemke • updated 07/99