Local 697 Wins
Contract with Flex
A first contract didnt come easily in 1997 for UE Local 697 members. And to gain a second agreement, they had to again
convince their employer, the Fairview furniture manufacturer Flex-Y-Plan Industries, that the union is here to stay.
Flex-Y-Plan workers voted for UE representation in January 1997. In response to months of stalled negotiations, Local 697
members picketed before and after work, rallied, and went on strike for three weeks. A first settlement was achieved in December 1997 (UE News: 2/98).
In December 2000, Local 697 members overwhelmingly turned down a contract offer from Flex-Plan Industries, which included
a wage freeze and large jumps in insurance premium co-pay. When the union asked to see the companys books, management refused, saying
they were "not pleading poverty or the inability to pay."
Over the next 18 months Local 697 members overwhelmingly rejected as unacceptable two more contract offers from the
Union members vowed not to give up, and continued to fight for fair treatment. The recession complicated matters, causing
shutdowns, deep layoffs and giving the company an opportunity to cry poverty. Adding insult to injury, the local was hit with a
decertification petition later dismissed by the National Labor Relations Board.
Undeterred, the membership engaged in an in-shop campaign and parked the strike trailer across the street from the
factory. UE members participated in informational picketing, regular leafleting, wore union T-shirts, buttons, stickers. Workers filed
grievances confronting management on a number of issues, filed charges with the National Labor Relations Board and took part in a one-day
walkout over grievances.
The NLRB scheduled a hearing on charges against the company that included not bargaining in good faith, regressive
bargaining, and illegal implementation of a contract while not at impasse.
FINALLY: ACCEPTABLE OFFER
In August, facing the NLRB hearing, the company finally came up with a contract offer the negotiating committee could
recommend to the membership. Local 697 members ratified the contract on August 22.
The settlement includes 2 percent bonuses based on w-2 earnings for the last year and two more payouts over the next two
years. Employees will receive up to a 25 percent rebate on insurance premiums they paid over the last year (which also covers the next two
Other contract improvements are reductions in mandatory overtime, expanded death-in-family benefits, reduced discipline
warning life, inclusion of the night-shift premium in calculation of vacations and holidays, longer breaks on overtime, and increases in
union leave. The contract increases sickness and accident benefits, clarifies job classification and establishes a 401 (k) plan, among
The Local 697 negotiating committee included Sue Falk, Mike Royer, Lee Jamison, Carol Black, Lou Gable, and Mark
Walsh. Assisting the committee was Field Org. Ron Flowers and Intl. Rep. Marion Washington.