Concludes 25 Month Struggle
First UE Contract
Ratified At Glastic
Sunday, December 17, 2000
By a margin of more than 95%, workers at the Glastic
Corporation plastics factory have ratified their first UE contract,
successfully concluding a 25-month struggle which featured protests from
Jefferson to Japan.
The new pact includes a union shop, a solid grievance and
arbitration procedure, limitations on the use of temporary workers, an
improved shift differential and many other gains and protections for the
approximately 120 workers at the northeast Ohio factory. Workers will receive
a $350 signing bonus and three 40-cent wage hikes in a 4-year agreement which
expires in November 2004.
The well-attended ratification meeting was spiced with strong
member endorsements for the new contract as well as testimonials to the long
struggle required to achieve it. UE members in several states, along with UE
allies in other unions at home and abroad, contributed to the fight to
organize this factory.
Following a narrow victory in an October
1998 NLRB election, Glastic workers first battled then-parent company Kobe
Steel, the giant Japanese transnational, with a campaign that included
outreach to workers at other Kobe-owned plants and demonstrations
outside Kobe headquarters in New York City and Tokyo. The protest
in Japan was mounted by the Japanese labor federation Zenroren, a UE ally.
Other rallies and protests involving UE members in districts 7 and 6 preceded
and followed the headquarters actions, including a Cleveland
area rally and news conference sponsored by the Jobs With Justice
The plant was later sold to Cambridge Industries, a large
U.S.-based company with several UAW-represented plants. UE undertook
solidarity work with Auto Workers members as well as with members of the
Paperworkers Union (PACE) employed at Glastic's sister plant in Cleveland.
The company changed ownership again, with Glastic separating
from Cambridge but remaining with a subdivision of the company controlled by
investor Richard Crawford of Michigan. Direct discussions with Crawford and
the intervention of a federal mediator eventually became stepping stones to
reaching a contract agreement. Also pivotal was a small mountain of unfair
labor practice charges filed to challenge the company's repeated lawbreaking
during the two-year contract fight.
The good result at Glastic also comes on the strength of an
in-shop organization which took on the company issue-by-issue and
grievance-by-grievance throughout the course of the long contract
negotiations. The persistence of the leadership of new UE Local 758 even
while working to build unity among a workforce that remained deeply divided
after the union's close election win was the ultimate source of this
important UE victory. They were assisted by UE Field Organizers Al Hart
and Gail Francis and UE International Representative Deb Gornall.
Other UE staffers also assisted a various times during the long contract
(Note: Well post a more detailed version of this story in
an upcoming issue of the UE News online)
UE News Online - 12/00