In 2014, employees petitioned the National Labor Relations Board to join the United Steelworkers. An election was held that allowed the union to join, but contract negotiations have been taking place since that time.
USW Sub-District 4 Director Mike O’Brien has been assisting the union with negotiations. He says there’s been quite a bit of progress.
“We’ve a lot of the language done, except for a few things the company is pretty insistent on that would leave the employees worse off than if they didn’t have a union – which we’re not going to agree to,” says O’Brien.
O’Brien claims representatives of MPI are stalling – which is typical in first contract talks. According to the union, the company may be hoping someone will file a decertification notice. That would force another election with the NLRB – which the union says would not be productive considering their level of support.
Wage rates are also a sticking point in the contract talks as there are currently different levels for employees doing the same jobs. Waiving the employees’ rights to bargain about changes made mid-contract has also been cited.
Talks are taking place a few times per month. That’s something O’Brien says are conducted professionally. There is currently no estimate for when contract talks could be wrapped up. O’Brien says the employees aren’t asking for the world.
“The company has stalled and stalled and stalled and at some point in time, the union would be filing unfair labor practice charges against the company and we are seriously considering that at this point,” says O’Brien.
O’Brien says he would rather not get into the details of the charges until they’re finished drafting them with legal counsel. At this time, USW officials believe a work stoppage would only be used as a last resort.
Around 200 employees would be affected by the contract once in place.