UE Local 1421 members who work at Graham Packaging made substantial gains in their recent contract negotiations, including one of the highest wage increases in recent memory. Graham workers had received about two percent across the board over the last few contracts, but this time the shop fought hard and won a three percent increase across the board for all bargaining unit members. “We had not seen a three percent raise in forever,” said Local 1421 Vice President and Chief Shop Steward Mikey Rivera. “The members were very happy with that.”
The union won another major victory around healthcare premiums. UE members were able to maintain low premiums and to lower the cost of the family plans by almost $90 per month. The Union was also able to maintain their current Kaiser Health Care plan which has a 10 dollar co-pay. Their current plan does not exists anymore except for a few union shops in CA and Local 1421 is one of them.
UE members improved their retirement by increasing the company match on the 401(k) retirement plan from 100% of the first 3% contributed by the employee to 100% of the first 4% contributed by the employee, and continuing to match 50% of the next 4% contributed by the employee.
They added another step in the progressive discipline process and increased the shoe allowance for the workers. The union and employer also made some minor changes to the contract that benefited both parties.
The membership “all were ready to take action,” said Rivera, and they put on a well-organized contract campaign, wearing stickers and shirts in the shop to demonstrate their unity to the boss. All of the members signed a petition making it clear to management that they wanted fair negotiations and a fair contract. The contract was ratified unanimously.
The negotiating committee consisted of Rivera, Shop Steward Jim Lawlor, and Wanda Brown. They were assisted by Field Organizer Fernando Ramirez.