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Trout Glass and other contractors hit by strike

Post Time:Jul 03,2009Classify:Industry NewsView:346

Glaziers Local 1165 went on strike today against Trout Glass & Mirror and the two other major glass contractors in Northwest Indiana after contract talks foundered on Monday and the union’s previous three-year agreement expired at midnight on Tuesday.

Henry Sierra, business agent of Painters Local 460--aligned with Glaziers Local 1165 of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, District Council 91--told the Chesterton Tribune today that the union and the three contractors reached “an impasse over monetary value.”

“The contractors’ proposal wasn’t up to the standards of the membership,” Sierra said, “and the contractors turned down the local’s counterproposal.”

A strike vote was taken on Tuesday and this morning five members of Local 1165--employees of Lazzaro Companies Inc. of Merrillville and Meyer Glass & Mirror of Michigan City--were manning a picket line at Trout Glass & Mirror at 1579 S. Calumet Road in Chesterton.

Trout employees were in turn manning the picket lines at Lazzaro and Meyer, to avoid what Local 1165 member Shawn Solner, employed by Meyer, called a potential “conflict of interest.”

Handling negotiations for the contractors had been Jeff Trout, Chuck Lazzaro, and Dennis Schultz of Meyer, Trout told the Tribune. He characterized the contractors’ proposal as a fair one: an additional $1.50 per hour in the first year of the contract, then another $1.50 per hour in the second year and a $1.75 per hour in the third year, or what would amount to a cost of living increase plus.

“The other building trades have settled and we used similar percentages,” Trout said. “That’s how we determined what the market would bear.”

Local 1165 counter-proposed 50 cents more than the wage increase offered by the contractors in the first year, Sierra said, 65 cents more in the second year, and 75 cents more in the third.

“We think we’re certainly being fair in this environment, with unemployment at an all-time high,” Trout said. “You get the cost of living and a little more and you get to keep your job. And the truth is there isn’t a whole lot of work out there right now. If we sit the month of July out, it really isn’t going to be a big deal.”

As it is, Trout added, “the base wage is right around $32 an hour and it costs us around $47 per hour after we’ve kicked in Social Security and other things.”

Sierra partially concurred with Trout’s assessment about the economy but suggested that hard times won’t last forever and maintained that the membership shouldn’t be penalized in the future for the climate today. “The economic conditions do play a large role in the strike process,” he said. “But who’s to say that the economy isn’t going to turn around in the next couple of quarters. And then they’ve locked us in. The cost of health care goes up. The cost of everything else goes up. And the wages stay the same.”

“Nobody wants a strike,” Sierra said. “Nobody wins in a strike. Our position is to go back to work and still be fairly compensated.”

Trout did say that the contractors “are perfectly willing to go to arbitration today.”

Sierra said in response that there can be no arbitration--a voluntary process for both parties--until a federal mediator has been appointed. “There’s a process and we’ve got to follow the process.”

On the picket line today Local 1165 member Ryan Pendleton, employed by Lazzaro, expressed his disappointment at the impasse. “We don’t want to strike,” he said. “There’s no hard feelings here.”

“We just need an agreement on the contract and we’ll go back to work,” Solner agreed. “But we don’t have a contract now and we’re bound by our union rules.”

Source: http://www.chestertontribune.comAuthor: shangyi

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