Increase Wages, Benefits
In Early Contract Settlement
|Local 770 bargaining committee members double-check
contract wording. Seated from left, Plant 2 Committeeperson Gary Mountz, Vice Pres. Joe Miller, Pres. Larry Wineland and Sec.-Treas.
Sherry Hubbard. Standing, Plant 3 Committeeperson Dave Warner and Plant 1 Committeeperson Mike Gillespie.
Successfully completing early contract negotiations, Local 770 members on Nov. 6 overwhelmingly ratified a new three-year
agreement. The contract will go into effect Jan. 13, 2003, the day after their current agreement expires.
The workers at Hendrickson Truck Suspension’s three plants in Kendallville and Butler won general wage increases of 49
cents the first year, 50 cents the second year and 56 cents the third year. The agreement also provides an additional 15-cent increase in
January for workers in the packer classification, addressing the disparity between their pay and job duties. Second and third shift
workers won an additional 5 cents, bringing the night-shift pay premium to 45 cents per hour. All union members also receive a $400
signing bonus on Dec. 13.
The Company sought increases in employees’ share of health insurance costs. The Local fought back and minimized those
increases, while winning a new "Wellness Benefit" which adds preventative services for employees and their families. There will
be no co-pays or deductibles for services covered by the Wellness Benefit.
The defined-benefit pension rises in January 2003 to $32.50 per month per year of service, from its present level of $28.
The contract also increases life insurance by $1,000 each year, and weekly sickness and accident pay by $10 each year.
The new pact also provides for increased skill training and accompanying pay increases for maintenance workers. The
company-paid training will bring an additional 15 percent in pay increases for workers who reach Maintenance Mechanic Level 2, by
completing 10 skill courses over four years. The program is voluntary for current maintenance workers, but will be required for workers
bidding into maintenance in the future.
Material handlers and laborers gain an increase in their allowance for purchasing outdoor work clothes to $125 over the
term of the agreement. The tuition reimbursement benefit is also improved.
The new contract will eliminate the company’s right to force workers to use as much as half their vacation while on
unpaid FMLA leave; the use of vacation during such leave will now be solely up to the worker. Workers also gain the right to take as many
of their vacation days as they wish, as single vacation days. Up to two vacation days per year can be taken for emergency purposes, as
long as the employee notifies the company by the start of the shift.
Bereavement leave is improved by adding son-in-law and daughter-in-law, and by guaranteeing three days off for the death
of any of the covered family members. (The old contract limited the leave to two days if the funeral was on a weekend.)
Hendrickson workers stopped company efforts to remove the attendance policy from the contract, thereby preventing the
company from changing it for the next three years. Negotiated changes in the attendance policy increase the perfect attendance bonus to
$150 for each quarter, and $150 for each year, of perfect attendance. (The annual bonus is multiplied by the worker’s number of
successive years of perfect attendance.) Workers with current attendance infractions will start with a "clean slate" when the
new contract goes into effect.
Local 770 also won improvements in workers’ rights to choose their shifts on the basis of seniority, and eliminated a
contract clause that prevented the union from pursuing discrimination complaints through the grievance procedure and arbitration.
Local 770 rank-and-file members backed the bargaining committee through the three weeks of early negotiations by wearing
UE T-shirts at work, and by letting management hear their objections to company proposals they didn’t like. Local 770 officers credit
the success of the negotiations to this membership support.
The Local 770 Bargaining Committee consisted of Pres. Larry Wineland, Vice Pres. Joe Miller, Sec.-Treas. Sherry
Hubbard, Plant 1 Committee Member Mike Gillespie, Plant 2 Committee Member Gary Mountz, and Plant 3 Committee Member Dave
Warner. They were assisted by Field Org. Al Hart.