Just before Christmas, Local 766 approved a new three-year agreement with Ametek Chemical Products Division. The new contract brings raises of 2.5 percent, 2.5 percent, and 3 percent, and increases the multiplier on the defined benefit pension by one dollar each year, for future service – bringing it to $43 by the end of the contract.
The employer will save money on health insurance by switching to a plan through the Steelworkers Health and Welfare Fund, as proposed by UE. Employee contributions will increase by just a few pennies in 2007, and by approximately $20 a month for family coverage in 2008 and 2009. The employer also paid a signing bonus, in the form of a $500 gift card to each member.
A new bargaining unit position, safety team coordinator, is established in the new contract, based upon a similar program established by UE Local 506 at the GE plant Erie, PA. During negotiations Local 766 and the company spoke by telephone with Local 506 members about the safety program. The seriousness of the Local 506 program helped to sell Ametek management on the idea. The pay for the position will be that of an electrical maintenance leader, and the safety coordinator will be chosen by a vote of the members.
Vacation entitlement was changed from a fiscal year to calendar year basis, with members getting their full 2007 entitlement on January 1. Changes in the vacation replacement program will allow the company to hire six additional vacation replacement workers from June to August, but will permit more regular employees to take vacation during those months.
As part of the contract settlement, the company also agreed to settle seven outstanding grievances. The settlements included a $1,000 payment to settle a medical co-pay for laid-off members, a 10 cents per hour wage increase for lab workers, and $99 reimbursement to another.
The union turned back company efforts to change the attendance policy, but agreed that employees who show a pattern of attendance abuse can be placed on a crisis watch policy with more stringent requirements to improve their attendance.
The Local 766 bargaining committee consisted of President Kathy Spurlock, Chief Steward Dave Copeland, Bill Smothers, Craig Berry and Denny Breitigan. They were assisted by International Representative Dennis Painter.