HARVEY | Steelworkers and Allied Tube and Conduit reached a new agreement after a marathon negotiating session over the weekend, ending a week-long strike.
About 460 workers had been striking outside the 4 million-square-foot mill that makes mechanical and electrical tubing for commercial buildings, after working without a contract for about a year. United Steelworkers of America Local 9777-18 members voted to reject a proposed deal with more than 150 changes last week, but a large majority ratified a new contract on Sunday, local vice president Steve Kramer said.
Union and company officials negotiated late into the night on Friday and Saturday, before reaching a tentative agreement on Saturday night. Some workers returned Monday to get production at the pipe and tube mill back up and running, while others who were not needed were given another day off to get their personal affairs back into order.
Allied Tube and Conduit, which operates a factory at 16100 S. Lathrop Ave., dropped plans to freeze pensions, deprive workers of the ability to choose which jobs they will work, and to require 10- to 12-hour workdays, Kramer said. The workers currently work eight-hour shifts, and the company wanted to be able to change shifts by up to four hours.
The union accepted higher out-of-pocket health care expenses and a reduction of job descriptions from 68 to 42, meaning the workers will have to take on more duties.
"It was mutually agreeable,"Kramer said. "It's a fair agreement, but neither side gets everything they wanted."
Allied Tube and Conduit cancelled the workers health insurance on May 1, which may have influenced the votes of several members, Kramer said.
"One of my guys had a daughter in a severe accident," he said. "A few are having babies or have spouses who are ill."
Workers received $3,500 ratification bonuses for approving the four-year contract, which will run through 2017 since no contract has been in place for the past year, Kramer said. They also got an additional $1,500 put into their 401K retirement savings accounts, 2 percent raises, and 2.5 percent raises in future years.
About 150 new employees who have been hired over the past few years, who earn less than senior workers, also got $1,000 signing bonuses.
"There was give and take, but it shows that strategically the strike still works," Kramer said.
A company spokeswoman did not return a message, but said earlier both sides need to compromise in any negotiation.