- A press conference is tentatively set for Monday in Chicago. For information, contact:
Members of UE's North Carolina Local 150 will protest Monday at the Charlotte national headquarters of Bank of America, in support of UE members in Chicago who are occupying their factory, Republic Windows and Doors. National news media have been reporting over the weekend on the ongoing factory sit-in by the Chicago union members. The workers are members of UE Local 1110. The plant suddenly shut down on Friday, Dec. 5 with only three days notice to the union and workers, and without paying workers money they are owed.
UE Local 1110 members in Chicago who work at Republic Windows and Doors are in a tough battle with their employer, as well as with the giant Bank of America. The bank - which has already been given $25 billion in as part of the taxpayer bailout of the financial industry - is refusing to extend credit to the company, forcing the plant to close and destroying some 300 jobs.
Hopes of smooth, easy negotiations because of excellent company profits proved baseless for members of UE Local 684 who work at The Electric Materials Company (TEMCO), a specialty copper mill. After exchanging proposals with the company on August 20, union bargaining committee members realized they were in for a fight.
On October 18, members of UE Local 1137 voted overwhelmingly to ratify their first union contact. Workers at the Ferro Pfanstiehl pharmaceutical plant had joined UE in May, when they chose UE representation by a two-to-one margin in an NLRB election.
Two major issues that drove both the organizing drive and contract negotiations were workers’ desire to stop the company from taking away employee benefits, and the need for a fair and rational wage system. Pay rates were all over the board, and even workers performing the same job often received vastly different wages.
In late October, UE Local 690 reached agreement with Kenson Plastics for a new three-year contract, which members ratified by a more than two-to-one margin. The local succeeded in retaining the existing healthcare arrangement, whereby the employer fully pays the premium for single coverage, and employees with family or dependent coverage contribute $75 a month toward the premium.
Local 151 ratified a new contract on October 1 with Aetna Ball Bearing including yearly wage increases of 3 percent, which translates to hourly increase ranging from 50 to 90 cents in the first year, and more in subsequent years. The new agreement freezes worker healthcare costs, increases the pension, and improves job security.
After 16 months of negotiations, Sub-local 11 of UE Local 222, representing Norwich City Hall employees, achieved a three-year contract settlement. The new agreement increases wages each year, by 3.5 percent, 2.5 percent and 3.5 percent. In addition 95 percent of employees also will also receive upgrades which will be implemented incrementally every 6 months and which will bring the average wage increase to 5.6 percent in the second year of the contract. Overall, including the classification upgrades, wage increases will average 3.7 percent a year.
For the first time ever, each department elected its own rank-and-file representative to serve on the bargaining committee.
At Charlotte City Council’s September 2 meeting, its privatization committee presented a recommendation to privatize 25 percent of solid waste services. Most solid waste workers knew nothing about this effort until a few days before the recommendation. But UE Local 150’s Charlotte chapter immediately sprang into action, with Chapter President James Al Locklear speaking to the council against privatization, just before the recommendation was announced.
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