With one hour to spare before the expiration of their collective bargaining agreement, the Local 684 negotiating committee reached a tentative agreement with their employer on October 4. The new contract, which was ratified by Local 684 members on October 12, includes some of the largest wage increases the local has ever negotiated.
Local 684 members work for the Electric Materials Company, formerly known as The Electric Materials Company (TEMCO). Electric Materials, a subsidiary of United Stars, Inc., manufactures custom copper products for the electrical equipment industry.
Two days before the contract expired, Local 684 members voted overwhelmingly to strike if the negotiating committee could not reach a tentative agreement before the contract’s expiration. Large numbers of members attended the negotiation meetings on the final days of the negotiations to send a message to the company that they were looking for real progress in the negotiations.
Under the new agreement, wages increased by 8.6 to 12.1 percent upon ratification, based on job grades. Wages will increase by 22 to 26 percent over the life of the five-year agreement with wage increases of three percent in each of the remaining four years. The negotiating committee was also able to upgrade 13 job classifications to higher job grades, resulting in additional wage increases for more than two dozen members.
The negotiating committee also negotiated increases in the amount the company contributes for employees’ health insurance premiums. In 2013, the local went out on its own to find health insurance coverage instead of agreeing to the company’s health insurance proposal. In 2023 and 2024, the company’s contribution will increase nine percent each year. The company’s contribution in the remaining three years will increase eight percent each year. The local’s health insurance committee works with the insurance provider each year on the plan design in order to hold down costs.
For the first time since the defined benefit pension was frozen in 2009, the negotiating committee was able to negotiate a $3 increase in the monthly pension multiplier, plus one percent of the amount of the worker’s compensation for each year of service on or after January 1, 2024. The company also agreed to include any profit-sharing in its four percent percent match for workers who have the 401(k) plan instead of the defined benefit pension.
The negotiating committee was able to improve Short-Term Disability (STD) benefits by eliminating the cap. Workers will now receive 67 percent of their wages for 13 weeks, after which workers will transition to Long-Term Disability benefits.
The vacation schedule was improved, with workers receiving two weeks of vacation after six months instead of after two years. Workers will also receive three weeks and four weeks of vacation sooner.
The new agreement includes contract language limiting mandatory overtime. Workers will not be required to work overtime more than two consecutive weekends. Mandatory overtime was one of the top issues the members wanted addressed in contract negotiation surveys.
The negotiating committee was also able to improve contract language on testing for job bids and recall to an employee’s former job if the employee is laid off, bumped, or bumps to another position. If an employee has not been transitioned to a new job within 30 days, the employee’s straight-time hourly wage rate will be adjusted to the new straight-time hourly wage rate for their new position, including any progression and shift differential.
In order to get a unanimous negotiating committee recommendation, the company agreed to pay the lost time of the six members of the negotiating committee. The company also agreed to make 200 copies of the new contract.
“We had a really good negotiating committee and the active support of our members to win this good contract,” said Local 684 President Jason Lanich. “It was a hard-fought battle. We made huge strides in improving wages, benefits and contract language. We couldn’t have achieved this contract without the support and unity of our members.”
The Local 684 negotiating committee consisted of Lanich, Vice President Theo Dobson, Chief Steward Nate Sheldon, and department representatives Caleb Farrell, Joe Miller and Joshua Van Hooser. They were assisted by International Representative John Thompson, UE Research Director Karl Zimmerman and UE Eastern Region President George Waksmunski.