Local 777 Gains
In First Contract
Since UE Affiliation
||Local 777 members listen attentively
to explaination of provisions of tentative agreement.
Two years after voting to affiliate their Independent Cutting
Tool Union with UE, workers at Cleveland Twist Drill have ratified their first contract as
members of UE Local 777-ICTU. The new three-year agreement improves wages by 4, 3 and 3
percent, and provides other gains. More important, the members reversed a trend of
concessions in recent years, and achieved a contract with only improvements.
The new contract adds a week of vacation, providing five weeks to workers
with 25 years service. Starting next year, holidays will be scheduled to provide a paid
Christmas shutdown. Laid-off workers will keep medical and dental benefits for three
months, in addition to the month when the layoff occurs. Sickness and accident benefits
increase by $15 a year from the old rate of $245, to $290 per week in the third year.
Employees share of medical and dental costs an area in which
the local suffered painful setbacks in past negotiations will be frozen at current
levels through the end of 1999. In the following two years, any increase in premiums will
be borne 80 percent by the company, 20 percent by the employee, but the increase in
workers contribution is "capped" at no more than $5 family, $2.50 single.
In an emotional fight for a membership that is predominantly high in
seniority, the local won back the retiree health insurance it had lost in 1995. Workers
who retire at 62 or older with 15 years service will be eligible for continued coverage.
STRENGTHENING THE UNION
New language improves union representation rights by removing the
requirement of "foreman approval" for officers and stewards to take union time,
and equalizes the number of company and union representatives in Step 2 grievance
meetings. (The company had a one-person advantage in the old contract.) The union gains
the right to have a UE field representative in Step 3 and other key meetings, and to move
union officers to first shift if needed for better functioning of the local.
Improved "no discrimination" language bars discrimination
because of union membership, holding union office, marital status, disability, and against
Vietnam veterans or disabled veterans.
Provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) were incorporated
into seniority language, and coverage by the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) was added
to the contract.
The local turned back company efforts to take away shift preference bumps;
to impose a more intrusive substance abuse policy and a vaguely-worded attendance policy
that would have given management more leeway to go after workers. On the effective date of
the new contract, all workers start with a "clean slate" under the existing
While the old contracts expiration date was June 30, agreement
wasnt reached until July 14, with membership ratification one week later. In
response to an inadequate "final offer" from the company, a July 28 membership
meeting voted unanimously to back the negotiating committee in seeking more. The company
stalled for several days apparently hoping for cracks in the members unity
but eventually "found" money that wasnt there earlier to meet some
key union demands.
The Local 777 negotiating committee consisted of Pres. Konrad Huffnagel,
Vice Pres. Lenny Feckner, Sec. Ron Navratil and Treas. Randy Murray. They were assisted by
Field Org. Al Hart.
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New Local Takes
Stand for Jobs,
delegates to this years Cutting Tool Conference, July 16-19 in Greensburg, Pa. From
left, Local 777 Treas. Randy Murray and Vice Pres. Lenny Feckner, Local 274 Greenfield Tap
& Die Shop Chair Dick Schatz, Local 777 Treas. Ron Navratil, Local 274 Pres. Gerry
LaValley and Local 777 Pres. Konrad Huffnagel. As an indication of consolidation in the
cutting tool industry, all local unions at this years Conference represent plants
purchased in recent years by Greenfield Industries, and then acquired last year by
Kennametal, Inc. Besides discussing problems and strategies in their plants, delegates
toured host USWA Local 8547s Carbidie plant in Irwin, Pa. and Kennametals
research and development center in nearby Latrobe.
Negotiations at Cleveland Twist Drill this year were made more
difficult by the companys contention that the plant has been losing money for the
past three years even though company negotiators freely admitted that management
mistakes were the major cause of the plants poor performance.
The plant manager attended a session to announce his request to the parent
company for investment to restore the proper tool hardening process, bring back some
machines that the company had foolishly removed months earlier, and purchase newer
machines. While the union has pushed for and would welcome this investment, UE Local 777
Pres. Konrad Huffnagel repeatedly told the company, "You need to invest in the
people," if the plants problems are to be corrected.
Over the past two decades and under successive corporate owners, Cleveland
Twist Drill (CTD) slipped from its leading position in the cutting tool industry. Workers
suffered the consequences as management downsized the workforce and forced a series of
concession-filled contracts on the ICTU, which formerly had the top wages and benefits in
In 1994 Cleveland Twist Drill was purchased by Georgia-based Greenfield
Industries, which was becoming a major force in the cutting tool industry through
acquisitions. (Greenfield Tap and Die, whose workers are members of UE Local 274, was
already owned by Greenfield Industries.) A year later, Greenfield closed the big CTD plant
on Clevelands East Side and moved to a suburban industrial park. But the move came
only after contract negotiations in which Greenfield negotiators threatened to move out of
the state if the union didnt grant concessions.
Management blunders only continued with the move to the new plant
the worst being the decision to scrap the salt bath hardening system that had been a key
to CTDs success, and replace it with a vacuum furnace heat treat. Workers told the
company that this system would not work for hardening drills and it didnt.
Two years and countless scrapped tools later, the company abandoned the vacuum furnace and
started subcontracting the heat treat work to unreliable outside shops. Quality problems
and production delays continued, as the union continued to hammer the company with the
need to put the right heat treat in the Solon plant, and let highly-skilled union members
do the job right.
Continued setbacks after the takeover by Greenfield Industries convinced
CTD workers that they, too needed to be part of a larger organization, and led to the
decision to affiliate with UE. Last year, Greenfield Industries itself was acquired by a
bigger corporation, Kennametal, Inc. of Latrobe, Pa.
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