Local 1121 members
celebrate the breakthroughs in their second-ever UE contract.
In their second UE contract, Local 1121 members employed at
Aramark gain an average pay increase of 5.1 percent in the first year, their
first paid personal day and a good local HMO to replace the company health
insurance. Overwhelmingly ratified on Aug. 17, the agreement breaks the lid
off the four-week maximum for vacations.
Mobilization for contract improvements began with a campaign
to redress an old injustice.
For the past three years Local 1121 members have been trying
to achieve justice for co-worker Mary Arenz. Mary had been unfairly removed
from her higher-paying job prior to UE representation and had never been paid
the difference she lost. Even though there was no grievance, Marys
co-workers took up her fight against local management. Through petition drives
and stickers throughout the last winter and spring, the membership agitated
about this injustice.
When negotiations began, company negotiators decided to get
rid of the issue and pay her off. Mary was awarded $750 in back pay. But the
bosses tactic backfired. The victory for Mary strengthened all Aramark
workers. Everyone understood the connection between progress and raising hell.
And raise hell they did. During the last two weeks of
negotiations, there were lunch-time rallies outside the plant with chanting,
signs throughout the plant and plenty of noise in the breakrooms. No boss in
the plant was safe from worker pressure to produce a good contract.
Improvements in the new agreement will raise the average wage
of $10.05 to more than $11.15 during the new three-year agreement. In addition
to their first personal day, workers added a half day holiday for Good Friday
and added 3-days paid vacation for members with 25 years of service or more.
Sickness and accident pay increases to $150 a week the first year, to $160 the
second year and to $170 the third year. Company-paid life insurance will now
be extended to spouses and children, and more members will be guaranteed
vacations during the summer months.
Scrapping the old company insurance with the choice of the two
best HMOs in the LaCrosse area will mean better insurance for all Local 1121
members with much less money out of their pockets. Other improvements include
added paid time-off for in-law funeral leave, an additional 10-minute in paid
breaks whenever it gets too hot during the summer months, and a guarantee that
workers will maintain the highest pay rate on jobs being reclassified as
Local 1121 negotiating committee members included Local Pres.
John Hammes, Chief Steward Jeff Tilson, Nancy Arenz, Charlene Winchell, Ann
Faeth, Terry Holen and Mary Arenz. They were assisted by UE Intl. Rep. Tim
UE News - 10/99