Workers at the National Visa Center (NVC) organized to join UE last year, and overcame their employer’s tough anti-union campaign to win a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB)election and gain union representation last October 19. Over the following four months, this workforce of nearly 600 received its UE charter as local 228, and members negotiated and ratified their first union contract, approved on February 28.
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In a classic UE battle, members of Local 274 for three months militantly fought against concession demands by their employer, Kennametal. On June 22, the local bargaining committee signed a tentative agreement for a new two-year agreement. The following day, the 74 members unanimously ratified it. Local President Shawn Coates calls it “a great contract with good benefits and good wage increases.”
On February 17, members of UE Local 1118 voted to ratify a new one-year agreement with their employer, FCi. These workers process forms for the United States Customs and Immigration Service at its Chicago Field Office, run by FCi as a federal contractor.
The contract settlement came after a fast-paced month of struggle between the workers and management. FCi tried to avoid negotiating a new contract with the union, and instead pushed for an extension of the agreement already in place. This extension would not have included any wage increase or change in contract language.
UE Local 622 members have overwhelmingly ratified a new five-year contract with their employer, Saint-Gobain Ceramics, which includes $2.10 in wage increases. The yearly raises in hourly wages are 35, 40, 40, 45 and 50 cents. Workers also received a $500 signing bonus.
The union and company reached a tentative agreement on May 20, the scheduled expiration date, despite some disruption caused by the company firing the plant manager just before negotiations began.
The Suffield food service workers were glad that, for the first time in several years, management did not talk about subcontracting their jobs during contract negotiations. The hard work of the union members has improved the financial performance of the school cafeteria. The members of Sub-local 38 of UE Local 222 negotiated and ratified a new three-year contract.
Municipal workers in Groton, who are members of Sub-local 62 of UE Local 222, ratified a new three-year contract after two years of negotiation and a one-year extension. Workers will receive a 2 percent general wage increase each year.
Going into contract negotiations this year, Windsor Locks school paraprofessionals expected difficulty because the school board would not share their proposed budget for the coming school year. The union also knew layoffs were possible. As of this writing a school budget has not been passed by the town.
Nevertheless, the union achieved a three-year contract with wage increases of 2 percent, 2 percent, and 1 percent. The school board wanted to cut the pay for substituting in half but ultimately agreed to retain the current contract language.
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As their contract expiration neared, the bargaining committee of UE Local 1107 met with their employer, Freudenberg NOK, with a lot at stake. Wisconsin’s 2015 anti-union “right-to-work”, which outlaws union shop language in all new contracts, hung over the local’s head. A lot of new workers had been hired since spring, and almost half the work force was impacted by a divisive two-tier wage system forced on the bargaining unit during the deep downturn in the auto parts business in 2009.
Frank Rosen, who served as president of UE District 11 for 14 years and whose UE membership and activism goes back 65 years, died November 28 in Chicago at age 91. Rosen made tremendous contributions to improving the lives of UE members and all workers, as well as to the peace, civil rights, and consumer rights movements.
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