Local 1174 President Rich Nordholm didn’t get to the UE Convention until the second day, but the good news he brought with him more than made up for his unavoidable tardiness. He was able to report that his local had, over the previous two days, achieved a successful end to the eight-week lockout by their employer, Quad City Die Casting. "We beat the company on all their issues, and now they’re going to have to deal with us," Nordholm told the convention, thanking all the locals that had sent support.
The persistence and creativity of Local 1174 members was key to their victory. Some 50 workers – more than half the local membership – picketed every day. By picketing temp agencies the company was using, the union got all three of them to pull their workers out of the plant. When a union press conference announced a "quality tour" that would visit customers to let them know that their castings were no longer being made by qualified workers. The first customer to be visited quickly sent a representative to take his company’s dies out of the Quad City plant. When the union announced it would visit Quad City’s biggest customer, management became interested in serious bargaining.
The local also engaged in political action to expedite members’ approval for unemployment benefits. It was only last year the Illinois law was changed to allow locked-out workers to collect unemployment comp, and it usually takes several weeks for the state agency to rule that workers are entitled. Local 1174 enlisted the help of U.S. Rep. Phil Hare (D-IL) and several state reps to speed up a ruling in their favor.
The major issues behind the lockout was the company’s demand for the unrestricted right to use temporary, part-time and contract workers. In the end, the company was forced to accept reasonable restriction on the use of such contingent workers. Over the term of the new three-year contract, the company can employ no more than 10 temps the first year, 12 temps the second year, and 15 temps the third year. No temporary worker will remain for more than 12 months – they must then either be let go or hired as permanent regular employees. No temps can be employed as long as any bargaining unit employee is on layoff. Temps can only be used in general labor occupations – not for skilled work – and temp workers will only be offered overtime after all bargaining unit employees have been offered the work. The new contract will allow the company to employ up to four part-time workers (currently there are none), and these will be in the bargaining unit.
The local won wage increases of three percent, two percent and two percent. All current workers in class 2 or 3 positions, in both die casting and secondary work, are immediately brought up to class 1. New employees will go through an automatic progression, bringing them from class 3 to class 1 within 24 months. (Previously there was no automatic progression in the secondary classification. This change will particularly benefit women employees.)
Employees will pay 10 percent of the premium for single healthcare coverage, 20 percent for family coverage. Weekly sickness and accident pay increases to $200 in the second year, $205 in the third. The new contract adds an expedited arbitration procedure.
Local 1174’s bargaining committee consisted of President Rich Nordholm, Financial Secretary Bill Peterson, and Recording Secretary Deborah Johnson. They were assisted by International Rep. Tim Curtin.