Local 1121 has negotiated and ratified a new three-year agreement with Aramark Industrial Laundry. The old contract expired at the end of April, but bargaining on a new agreement was not completed until July 11, and four days later the members ratified the new contract by 2 to 1.
The major issue was health insurance, where the company wanted to replace the existing 80/20 plan with a 70/30 plan, which would also impose higher employee contributions and a 25 percent co-pay on prescriptions. It also would have increased the out-of-pocket maximum from $4,000 to $8,000.
But workers resisted. “We had a lot of support from our members during negotiations,” says Charlene Winchell, local treasurer and a member of the UE General Executive Board. “Everyone wore T-shirts and stickers, and as we approached the end of negotiations we all made and put signs in our cars.”
In the final agreement the local maintained its current 80/20 health insurance. Premiums will go up between $5 and $10 a week in January 2015, and each January after that. Wages increase by 25 cents each year. The union also agreed to language that would allow a work schedule of four 10-hour days in part of the plant. “It could affect up to three-quarters of the plant, if the company ever does it,” says Winchell. “They wanted it in place if the work load significantly increases. The company would have to hire a lot more workers before changing to this work schedule to cover the rotation. We would be working five days a week in the plant with workers having there select day off by seniority.” Currently the plant operates on a five-day schedule with two eight-hour shifts.
“Many of those who voted no did not like the possibility of 10-hour shifts, which some were afraid could lead to 12-hour shifts,” says Winchell. “But the fact that we were able to keep our 80/20 health plan was a major accomplishment, because the company was very insistent that we had to give it up.”
The bargaining committee included President Derek Martine, Vice President Jay Jamesson, Chief Steward Christina Wurm, and Treasurer Charlene Winchell. They were assisted by Field Organizer Jack Lasiter.