Stepan Workers Beat Back Healthcare Concessions, Secure Wage and Language Gains

February 13, 2020

UE Local 1421 members who work at the Stepan Chemical Plant negotiated a new three-year contract in November which secured gains in wages, severance and language clarification while beating back concessions on benefits and health care costs.

The company came to the table demanding that the union give up its right to negotiate over health care changes, and cost increases of as much as 10 percent without a significant raise to offset the cost.

UE members in the shop demonstrated that they were ready to organize and fight to defend what they have and build on it, not give it away. Members wore UE buttons and UE shirts in the shop and circulated a petition demanding a fair and just contract.

The negotiating committee pushed back hard against the concessions and managed to get the company to back off from any concessions on health care. “Our employer’s demand for concessions on healthcare, and the way that healthcare increases eat up our wage increases, illustrate why we need Medicare for All to take healthcare off the negotiating table,” said Local 1421 President Bryan Martindale.

The union secured wage increases of 2.5 percent each year, along with language improvements on health care and emergency vacation days. The attendance bonus, short-term disability benefits and the severance package are all improved in the new contract.

The negotiating committee consisted of President Bryan Martindale, Chief Shop Steward Rogelio Luna, and Keith Mills. They were assisted by UE Field Organizer Fernando Ramirez.

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