ATTICA, Ind. (WLFI) - Local union workers who were set to strike Wednesday have pulled back and agreed to re-negotiate with Attica company C&D Technologies.
The union workers' group, IUE-CWA Local 84950, has been in contract negotiations with C&D since last August. Last Saturday, the company's last proposal was rejected by the union, which moved to strike beginning Wednesday.
But the day of the strike, a union representative told WLFI a federal mediator has been brought in. Now, union members will sit down with C&D again this Saturday, hoping to come to an offer everyone can agree upon.
"Fundamentally, the members of IUE-CWA Local 84950 are fighting to protect the stability of middle class families in this community," the union stated in a Wednesday press release. "The employees at C&D in Attica have worked for years (some of them over 40 years) to create good, stable lives for their families. Although the work in the factory is difficult and in some cases very physical, our members are proud of the high quality labor they provide, and they deserve respect, fair wages and reasonable benefits that they can count on."
The union said the company's health care proposal is a big sticking point in negotiations right now.
"Their proposal reduces coverage and increases costs to the employees," the union said.
The union also has problems with C&D's plans to restructure the wage package and to freeze pensions.
The union representative we spoke with said if the union and C&D Technologies can't come to an agreement Saturday, the company says it will makes its best (and final) offer next Monday.
Here's what C&D had to say last Monday:
C&D is a global technology company that produces and markets systems for power conversion and storage of electrical power including industrial batteries and electronics. We have been proud to be a part of the local business community here for more than 50 years.
That's why we are disappointed to report that after five months of negotiations, the IUE-CWA (Communication Workers of America) and the 250 plant employees it represents at our Attica facility have voted "no" to our proposed labor agreement.
It has been our intent since beginning the conversation with the union committee in August to negotiate in good faith, to pursue a productive dialogue and to arrive at a fair contract for all – just as we have in the previous two contract negotiations with the IUE-CWA. The current contract expired on Sept. 22, 2012.
We also understand that the union has elected to strike as of Wednesday, Feb. 13. Should that happen, we will implement our Continuing Operations Plan to ensure that production continues, delivery schedules are met, and product gets to customers as it should. The Continuing Operations Plan utilizes our entire salaried work force in Attica as well as trained replacement workers from Strom Engineering, a firm that specializes in labor contingency planning as well as recruiting and deploying a temporary managed workforce.
We have worked with our transportation services provider to ensure all shipping in and out is handled on time. We have also taken the necessary steps to ensure that a safe and productive working environment is maintained for all – always a top priority for C&D.
This has been a very lengthy and difficult negotiation process. We believe we have put a fair agreement on the table that addresses many issues. Perhaps most significant is that our proposed agreement offers the following:
- To maintain wage increases. In fact, following the union's "no" vote on Jan. 19, we went back to the table and agreed to improve wages;
- a new, comprehensive, health care benefits program for which the company will continue to pay more than 90% of employee premiums over the course of the proposed three-year agreement. The new benefits program does require an increase in employee premiums – the first increase in premiums for Attica employees since 2007; and
- an enhanced 401(k) plan to replace the existing pension plan, a change that is consistent with the majority of employers across the country.
It is our sincere hope that the union reconsiders and agrees to this last, best and final offer we have presented so that we can all move beyond this process expeditiously and productively.
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