After more than three weeks on strike, the members of UE Local 279 at Weir Valves and Controls returned to work today, Tuesday December 16, under the terms of the most recent “last, best and final offer” from the company, and a return to work agreement that was negotiated by the union and company on Monday. The members voted unanimously on Friday, December 12 to return to work under these terms, but at this point no contract is in place yet. The following is a statement that the local posted on its Facebook page on Saturday – the day they also hosted a spirited solidarity rally on the Weir picket line with members of other UE locals and other unions in the North Shore area.
“Our strike is coming to an end as it achieved its main goals-- prevention of temps taking our laid-off members' jobs, preventing favoritism in overtime distribution, and controlling increases to our healthcare costs. Our men are making an unconditional return to work Tuesday with that victory, but without a contract while we wrap up some of the peripheral issues then we can hopefully ratify our contract in short order.
“The company illegally declared impasse and imposed its final offer (which dropped/settled the issues above which triggered the strike), so we still have to deal with that issue as well as some outstanding grievances that were in process during the strike. While we hope and expect the company will want to settle these issues and conclude a contract, we put nothing past them. If they commit another Unfair Labor Practice prior to ratification, we have no problem walking out again on that basis. Stay tuned, we will continue to provide updates leading up to and after contract ratification.
“The brothers of UE Local 279 are in good spirits and proud of their success in defending their contractual rights, and very thankful to all the UE locals, other labor organizations, family members, and others who supported them on this strike. We will personally thank each and every one of you by name in short order. We also want to thank the people whose names we don't necessarily know but who refused to cross our picket lines. The vast majority of contractors and truck drivers turned around as soon as they realized we were on strike... most were non-union but understood the fight their fellow working men were waging. Also big up to the temps who told the company to their face, in spite of their pleading to come to work, that they wouldn't scab. We may never know your names but your actions will always be remembered.
“To our brothers and sisters at FairPoint still on strike, we voted today that upon contract ratification to pay forward some the generous donations to our strike fund in hopes it will sustain you onward to your own victory. We're all in this together. We may be folding up our own picket lines but we'll be showing up to yours soon enough.”