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Latest News - January 2012

January 16, 2012
Timken steelworkers reject pact
Source: Special to the Beacon Journal
By: George W. Davis

CANTON: Union steelworkers at Timken Co. on Sunday rejected a new pact that included wage increases, labor security and a $225 million plant expansion.

By a vote of 917-608, the nearly 2,300-member United Steelworkers of America Local 1123 turned down a tentative agreement reached last month, leaving local President Joe Hoagland without an answer on what happens next.

The company “wanted a tentative agreement before the end of 2011 and we gave it to them. With this vote we’ll have to wait to see where we go next,” he said.

Workers from Timken’s three steel plants in Stark County — Harrison, Gambrinus and Faircrest — cast their ballots during an 11-hour voting period at the Mayfield Senior Center on 13th Street Southwest.

Now the ball is back in the court of the Canton-based manufacturer of specialty steel and bearings.

The contract didn’t call for creating jobs, but did include wage increases, continued health care and a commitment to spend $225 million to expand the Faircrest plant’s alloy bar output, including adding a caster and ladle refiner.

Not all details of the contract were made public, in keeping with international union policy, Hoagland said.

Told that some members suggested the pay increases in the contract could amount to 11 percent over the life of the contract, Hoagland responded, “It’s going to be a little more than that when they compound.”

Turnout was steady throughout the day. Some workers arrived immediately after completing their work shifts and came through the doors in single file to register and cast ballots.

Before the votes were tallied, Hoagland said the contract “has some good things in it. It’s a long-term deal [job security]. It protects health care for another 5› years, and provides decent raises for a long-term contract.”

But one worker with 14 years at Timken who asked to remain anonymous was disappointed in the contract.

“They are taking stuff away from us that we won in the last contract, like people who are about to retire. I think they [Timken] aren’t giving us enough,” he said.

Others were prepared to accept the deal.

James Pfeil, with Timken for 17 years and based at the Harrison Avenue Southwest plant, declared after voting, “This is a pretty good contract. They aren’t taking anything away from us. There are some issues we wish they would have negotiated on, but the company said they weren’t negotiable. Overall, it’s a good contract.”

Jeff Morales, a straddle driver with 15 years at Timken and based at the Gambrinus plant, agreed.

“There are things I like about the contract and things that I wish would have been addressed,” he said.



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