It was a long road that brought us here: two years of passing out leaflets in the burning sun, crowding into a garage for membership meetings, and beating back the company’s misinformation on late-night calls with our co-workers.
But everyone’s hard work and determination paid off last month when we voted 3-to-1 to ratify our first ever union contract.
Workers at Haynes International in Arcadia, La., are now proud Steelworkers of Local 1505, protected by a strong collective bargaining agreement.
For us, forming a union was never about the pay (though our members aren’t complaining about the new increases).
Under our new contract, workers who used to put in month-long stretches with mandatory overtime and no scheduled days off will now have more time to spend with their families. We’ll receive the same medical coverage as longtime union workers at the company’s other plant, and we’ll finally have flexibility to visit our doctors and fully utilize that benefit. And, most important, we’ll have a voice on the job and a procedure for holding the company accountable.
We owe a debt of gratitude to USW Local 2958 at our sister plant in Kokomo, Ind., for standing with us when times got tough. At the bargaining table and in their own plant, they made sure the company knew that it was facing a fight with them – and with the full United Steelworkers Union – if it stalled and stonewalled.
Organizing a union is never easy, and negotiating a first contract brings another set of challenges. The fight was long but worthwhile, and we’re a stronger union because of it.
Here in Arcadia, La., we are proof that solidarity still works.
Acting Steward, USW Local 1505
Posted January 4, 2013 at 8:00 am, in Free Speech Zone