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Latest News - August 2010

August 21, 2010
Union seeks to void contract
By: Larry Rulison Business Writer

WATERFORD -- A group of dissident union members at the Momentive Performance Materials factory in Waterford want to void the union's new contract with the company, alleging that union executives with the IUE-CWA did not represent their interests when negotiating the deal.

John Phelps, who has worked at the plant for 39 years, is organizing a petition drive among union members with a eye on filing a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board. Phelps says the complaint could be filed within a couple of weeks.

Phelps says that the union's leadership settled a previous complaint it had against the company with the NLRB but also handed its members a new contract that doesn't serve their best interests.

"We've had it with them," Phelps said Friday. "We don't think they're working on our behalf. Somebody's got to stand up to this stuff. This has got to stop."

NLRB spokesman Barney Horowitz said Friday that his office has yet to receive an official complaint.

"They would have to file a charge, and we don't have a charge," Horowitz said.

A Momentive spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment.

IUE-CWA Local 81359 represents about 600 of the 1,000 workers who work at the Waterford plant, which produces adhesives and sealants used in the housing, automotive and textile industries.

The plant was previously owned by General Electric Co., which sold it in 2006 to the private equity firm Apollo Management Group as part of its sale of its Advanced Materials business.

In January, the NLRB filed a complaint against Momentive after the company undertook a restructuring effort at the beginning of 2009 that cut the wages of unionized workers.

The complaint was dropped in July when the union agreed to a new three-year contract that included back pay for hundreds of union workers. There was also a modest increase in wages from the reductions in 2009, according to some union members.

Immediately after the new contract was agreed to by the union, some workers complained that the deal favored the company too much.

Phelps said some workers were eager to approve the new contract to get the back pay packages, but he says in the long run, workers are giving up long-term earnings in the deal. He said workers in Ohio were unfairly counted in the vote totals to make sure it passed since local opposition was so vocal.

"We're not too happy about that," Phelps said.

IUE-CWA Administrative Director Steve Lykins did not immediately return a call seeking comment.



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