UE members at Graham Packaging have been hard-hit by the economic downturn, with two-thirds of them laid off, some since September. Yet when the company came after them in negotiations with a determined attack on their pension, healthcare, and their civil liberties, Graham workers responded with a high level of unity and militancy, and turned the tide of battle.
UE NEWS Updates
UE Local 170 has been making news in West Virginia and nationally, and in the words of one local TV station, “making waves” over the state’s double standard on pay.
The local is protesting the fact that Governor Joe Manchin is about to receive a 58 percent pay increase while withholding raises for state workers. The union’s fight on behalf of public employees was the subject of a segment on CNN’s Lou Dobbs Tonight program on February 27.
The sale of the former Republic Windows and Doors Company to California-based Serious Materials has been finalized with the approval of the bankruptcy court. Serious Materials also reached agreement with UE Local 1110, ensuring that all former Republic employees will be rehired at their former rate of pay, and that UE will continue to represent workers at the factory.
For the 190 paraeducators in the Wallingford Public Schools, the fight for health benefits started long before the recent round of contract negotiations began last July. In a contract survey conducted months earlier by their union, Sub-local 75 of UE Local 222, over half of the members said that gaining healthcare coverage – which their employer had never provided them – was the most important bargaining goal.
LabourStart has conducted the competition every year since 1997. Trade union websites from around the world compete and individual union members vote online to choose is the very best union website. This year’s winner was announced on February 11.
A crowd of 400 Motor City labor activists gathered at the IBEW Hall in Detroit on February 9, including the presidents of the Michigan AFL-CIO State Federation and of the Greater Detroit Labor Council. Members of the United Auto Workers (UAW), Steelworkers (USW), International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), AFSCME, Musicians (AFM), American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) participated. This was the ninth stop on the two-week Republic Workers’ Victory Tour.
Librarians in Rocky Hill, members of Sub-local 39 of UE Local 222/CILU, have a new four-year contract that locks in their health insurance percentages through June 30, 2012 and increases wages by 15.4 percent.
The employer and the union also agreed to consolidate various stipends that had been paid annually to certain members, which resulted in significant equity adjustments for food service and transportation positions.
UE Local 155 members at the Stepan Company, a chemical manufacturer, voted to approve, on December 12, the company’s final offer for a new three-year agreement. The new contract increased wages by 2.75 percent (retroactive to November 28), and will bring two additional raises of 2.5 percent each on November 28, 2009 and 2010. Workers in the classification of blended operators received an additional 50 cent and hour equity increase. The average hourly wage prior to the new agreement was $27.24.
Not only are recipients of the federal bank bailout using some of that money to pay big executive bonuses and to buy corporate jets. Some of them are also using that money – which is really our money – to attack unions and organize business opposition (including soliciting political contributions) against the Employee Free Choice Act, a bill that would make it easier for workers to organize.
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