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Local 1107 Successfully
Defends Pension Benefits


In a battle lasting almost a year and a half, UE Local 1107 members successfully protected millions of dollars in pension benefits. Senior employees’ monthly pension payment would have been cut by about one fourth if the employer, Freudenberg NOK, was allowed to have its way. An arbitrator’s decision in late June ordered the company to pay the higher benefits and to make whole the recent retirees who had been denied their full pension payments.

The dispute began in early 2000, right around the time the 1999 contract was signed by union and company representatives. An employee applying for his pension was told that the benefits would be lower than he expected. After union representatives challenged the company’s figures, the company informed the union that they were using a different formula than the union had negotiated.

Local 1107 members banded together in solidarity to protect their hard-won pension. They expressed their displeasure to the company in various ways, among them stickers, T-shirt days, and rancourous discussion at company-called plant meetings. The members also voted for a substantial increase in their monthly dues, in part to ensure that they had the financial resources to carry on the legal portion of the battle. The local officers spent numerous hours doing the research and leg-work needed to compile the case.


The pension benefits in dispute had to do with years of service worked prior to 1997. Due to a change in ownership, employees are due $17 in monthly pension benefits, from a combination of two old pension plans, for each year worked during that period. The union’s contention, upheld by the arbitrator, is that Freudenberg is supposed to pay an additional $6.50 for each of these years to take pensions up to the $23.50 level currently mandated by the contract. Freudenberg claimed it only had to pay $23.50 for years worked from 1997 on, and nothing for the previous years.

An employee retiring with 25 years right now would lose about $130 a month in pension benefits using the company’s approach. The amount that a senior employee would lose increases as the pension multiplier grows. The company claimed that the total value of the additional benefits the Local 1107 members will receive due to this victory is close to $2 million.

In order to win its case, the company had claimed that the 1999 contract language regarding the pension was wrong. They asked the arbitrator to replace it with other language, language that could have gutted the pension. The arbitrator, however, rejected this claim, leaving the current pension language in the contract.

UE Local 1107 was represented at the arbitration hearing by Pres. Glenn Bush and Chief Steward Mike Bluell. They were assisted by Field Org. Lynn Swiertz and District 11 Pres. Carl Rosen.

UE News - 07/01

Home -> UE News -> 2001 Archives -> Article

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