By Brad Bauer, email@example.com
Eramet Marietta employee Steve Tornes loads a tool truck Monday. Tornes
and other employees returned to their jobs Monday after a 160-day labor
dispute at the local specialty metal producer.
BRAD BAUER The Marietta Times
Marietta workers and company officials took the first steps Monday
toward putting a bitter labor dispute behind them when about 240
employees returned to work after a five-month lockout.
employees described a “sour grapes” sentiment after inking a three-year
contract with the specialty alloy producer on Friday that was short of
“People were tired of being out of work and
they felt like they needed to do something for their families and the
community and they accepted the offer,” said Jim Deem, president of
United Steelworkers Local 1-00639, and a 33-year Eramet employee.
August, workers turned down the first of three contract offers from the
company because it would have frozen pension plans and left employees
the option of enrolling in a modified benefit plan of $30 per month for
each year of service (plus what the worker had accumulated through the
end of 2006), or the option of enrolling in a 401(k) plan with a dollar
for dollar match, up to 5 percent.
The three-year contract
ratified on Friday still freezes the pension plan, caps the cost of
retiree health care insurance for the company, and increases
deductibles and out of pocket medical expenses for both active members
and retirees, according to Deem.
Steve Tornes, 48, of Marietta,
has worked as a metal worker at Eramet the past 18 years. He said he
wasn’t too happy with the latest contract, but he was glad to be back
“This lockout or strike or whatever you want to call it
has definitely worked on us,” Tornes said. “There are things I’m behind
on and if it weren’t for unemployment I’d be even deeper in the hole.”
Tornes said he hopes time eases the bitter feelings many workers have of the company.
2017 I’ll be eligible to retire and I hope I’m still here to be able to
do that,” Tornes said. “I’m not sure what kind of retirement I’ll end
up with. But this has been my life. This is how I’ve provided for my
Eramet spokesman Ethan Frank-Collins said the
concessions in the workers’ retirement and medical costs were necessary
to help ensure the plant is still there in 10 or 20 years.
there is going to be a mix of emotions,” Frank-Collins said. “But a lot
of the folks I’ve seen today are pleased to be back to work and in good
spirits. For others, I hope over time their sentiment will improve.”
Workers returned at 8 a.m. Monday. The day started with a review of plant safety operations.
Eramet at a glance
Marietta, owned by a French-based firm, is the lone domestic source of
ferromanganese, an alloy that improves steel. The French-owned company
sells about 35,000 tons of the material a year and employs about 400
The plant, along
Ohio 7 between Marietta and Belpre, opened in 1951 as part of a huge
Union Carbide complex that was divided and sold in the 1970s.
Eramet union workers earn an average of $19.53 per hour.