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Latest News - January 2012

January 15, 2012
Steelworkers reject pact with Timken
Source: Canton
By: Lisa Reicosky

Members of United Steelworkers Local 1123 Golden Lodge have rejected a tentative agreement with The Timken Co. that would have replaced its current contract and run through September 2017.

The vote, held throughout the day Sunday, ended with 917 members rejecting the new contract and 608 voting to accept it.

The union represents more than 2,200 hourly Timken workers. The union and Timken negotiators reached a tentative agreement in mid-December.

The company had announced in August that it was considering a $225 million upgrade to its Faircrest plant to meet growing demand for steel in oil drilling, hydraulic fracturing and heavy equipment. However, the investment was contingent upon the company having assurance that there would be no strike while the upgrades were being completed.

It was the company that initiated talks for an early contract, which began in September. The upgrades would have been completed sometime in 2014.

Local 1123 President Joe Hoagland said the vote was disappointing considering that it was recommended unanimously by the union’s bargaining committee.

He declined to speculate why the large number of voters passed rejected the contract.

“It could be any number of things. It’s all over the map,” he said Sunday night of the many different groups and seniority levels within the company and the different ways the contract could have affected them.

As for heading back to the bargaining table, Hoagland said he did not know if that would happen.

“It’s up to the company. They wanted a tentative agreement by the end of 2011. If they didn’t get that, they said they’d take the money and go elsewhere,” he said. “I take them at their word.”

The investment and factory upgrades, he said, could be done at one of Timken’s southern facilities.

“The ball is in their court at this time,” Hoagland said.

The company released a statement Sunday night announcing the contract rejection.

The release said the proposed contract offered wage and benefit increases, a signing bonus for ratification and additional job security measures.

“Many parts of this company are growing and expanding around the world," said Salvatore J. Miraglia, president of Timken's steel business division. "We are disappointed in this outcome because the contract was a necessary step before our commitment to invest $225 million in steel operations in Canton.”

Miraglia noted the existing contract remains in effect until December 2013 and said the company will be evaluating other investment opportunities in bearing and power transmission markets and operations around the world to support the company’s overall growth strategy.



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