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Early Talks Net
Big Gains for Local 243


The UE committee at Sargent ...

The UE committee at Sargent. Seated, from left, Mark Meinster, Fran Amendola, Ray Pompano, Cynthia Salters and Steve Saunders; standing, Sal Luzzi, Wayne Morrison, Tony Izzo, Bobby Cox and Archie Foster.

Sargent Manufacturing workers, members of UE Local 243, have ratified a new contract with the giant, world-wide lock manufacturing company ASSA ABLOY — achieving all of their major goals, and six months before the deadline.

The previous contract would not expire until March 2001.

Local 243 has been mobilizing its members for a big fight for the past year or so. Both sides knew that negotiations were going to be tough. ASSA ABLOY had recently doubled its size by acquiring the Yale Lock Co. At the same time, UE Local 243 members made their goals crystal clear to the company: they wanted increases in the pension benefit and in Sick and Accident pay. They wanted to strengthen the contract’s language on temporary employees. And there would be a big fight if the Company tried to increase employee payments for health insurance.

When Sargent management approached the local about entering into early negotiations, the UE leadership was initially skeptical of the company’s intentions. At that point the local made a decision. They decided that if the company met the union’s major bargaining goals they would hammer out a contract. If not, negotiations would have to wait until February.

The company had other ideas. Once the local got into negotiations, the company announced that they viewed the early talks as negotiations for a "contract extension" and only wanted to discuss a few economic items.

The UE committee, however, stood strong. Over and over, the committee made it clear to the company that without agreement on the local’s core issues, negotiations would have to wait until next year. The membership was united on this point.


Local 243’s strategy paid off. After two weeks of negotiations, the UE Local 243 negotiating committee brought a tentative agreement to the membership which met all of the local’s major bargaining goals, and then some. The agreement was ratified convincingly.

The new contract includes much sought-after gains in many key areas. UE members received a 50-cent wage increase in November, five full months before they would have normally received a raise. In the second contract year, wages will rise by 3.5 percent; in the third year wages will rise by 3.4 percent. In a big victory, workers on progressive assembly lines received a labor grade increase, upping their pay an additional 17 cents an hour. This upgrade will affect one-fifth of the shop.

UE Local 243 members will pay no more for their health insurance. This was a hard-fought victory, given that Blue Cross/ Blue Shield had raised their premiums substantially.

UE members won pension multiplier increases of $2.00 the first year, $.50 the second year, and $.50 the third year. The pension multiplier will be raised to $29.25 by the end of the contract. In addition to the defined benefit plan, the company agreed to institute a new 401(k) plan for employees.

Sick and accident pay will rise substantially, to a minimum of $300 a week and a maximum of $400 a week.

Sargent workers also won an extra half a week’s vacation at 20 years, an increase which will apply to a good portion of the shop.


In addition to economic gains, the local won some extremely important contract language victories. In particular, the new contract addresses the growing problem at Sargent of temporary employees.

Although the local has negotiated good contract language regarding temps during the previous negotiations, the company has abused it, leading to numerous grievances. The new language guarantees that the few temps the company is allowed to hire under the contract will become permanent within 180 days. In addition, any temporary employees on the Sargent payroll as of the ratification of the contract were made permanent Sargent employees.

The new contract also contains innovative language gains such as medical coverage for permanently disabled employees, a company commitment to provide technical training for younger Sargent workers and vacation pay protection for employees out on workers’ compensation.


When Sargent converted from a piecework shop to a day-rate shop a few contracts ago, workers received an "incentive differential," or ID. This means that they receive up to several dollars an hour extra for the work they perform. Local 243 won a major victory this contract when the company agreed to let workers carry their "ID" with them when they bid on other jobs in their department. In addition, workers will carry their ID with them in the case of layoff due to new machine technology, process improvement or outsourcing.

With the contract finished early, Local 243 is now turning its attention to organizing other factories in the New Haven area.

Members of the UE Local 243 negotiating committee included Pres. Ray Pompano, Tony Izzo, Sal Luzzi, Wayne Morrison, Steve Saunders, Fran Amendola, Robert Cox, Cynthia Salters, and Archie Foster. They were assisted by UE Field Org. Mark Meinster.

UE News - 12/00

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