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Local 611 Extends, Improves
Contract At Newell Porcelain


On the picket line in 1998 ...
The 12-week strike in the summer of 1998 convinced the new owners of Newell Porcelain to deal fairly with UE Local 611 a year later. Genl. Sec.-Treas. Bob Clark is shown here with Local 612 strikers.

As they proceeded with plans to purchase Newell Porcelain, two management officials eagerly sought a deal with UE Local 611. After all, Rick Stanley, sales manager, and Dan Wolfe, controller, vividly recalled the 12 weeks in 1998 when union members fought for a decent contract.

And they knew potential lenders, customers and suppliers had not forgotten the strike, either — especially with Local 611 members still proudly wearing their red T-shirts with the slogan "Summer of ’98 — We Took It to the Streets."

Stanley and Wolfe, who became Newell Porcelain’s new president and chief financial officer, let workers know they intended to increase production standards by 12 percent.

Under these circumstances, the Local 611 negotiating committee returned to the bargaining table to work out the details of a contract extension with economic safeguards.

"We got a pretty good deal," says Local Rec. Sec. Mary Ice. "We got more out of the new people than we did out of the old owners when we were on strike."

Contract Improvements

The strike-won contract was due to expire on Aug. 3, 2002; the improved agreement is extended to August 2005. Added to the wage increases guaranteed by the 1998-2002 agreement, which total $1.25, are raises of 35 cents in 2003, 35 cents in 2004 and 40 cents in 2005. Workers will receive a one-time $300 bonus in August 2002 at the start of the contract extension. The shift premiums for both the second and third shifts are doubled.

A Christmas bonus will go into effect every year beginning with the first pay period in December 2000. The bonus will be equal to $10 times years of service.

Beyond the 12 percent increase in production standards, there will be no further increase through 2005, except as new pieces are introduced.

Vacation, Holiday Improvements

The 1998 negotiations broke through the two-year cap on vacations, giving workers with 10 or more years’ service a third week of vacation. Negotiations with the new owners adds a fourth week of vacation after 15 years.

And the new agreement improves the rules for vacation eligibility. Previously an employee had to work 1250 hours to receive full vacation benefits. To qualify now, an employee must work 51 percent of scheduled hours in the preceding 12 months; if out during that time on short-term disability or workers’ compensation, the first 200 hours of leave will count as hours worked. As a result of this change, two pending grievances were settled to the workers’ satisfaction; both men had vacation time restored.

The agreement adds two new paid holidays: New Year’s Eve, effective 2000, and the employee’s birthday, effective 2002. Negotiations cleaned up and expanded the contract’s bereavement leave language.

The company agrees to contribute another 10 cents towards the 401(k) plan.

The agreement with the new owners was ratified by the Local 611 membership in a 42-11 vote on Aug. 24.

The UE Local 611 negotiators were Pres. Alvin Allison, Vice Pres. Michael Diddle and Rec. Sec. Mary E. Ice, who consulted with Intl. Rep. Marion Washington.

UE News - 12/99

Home -> UE News -> 1999 Archives -> Article

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