By Brad Bauer, email@example.com
BRAD BAUER The Marietta Times
out of work for nearly four months, Eramet Marietta worker Ed Scott,
51, left, stands outside the Ohio 7 plant on Christmas Eve with several
around a makeshift wood-burning stove and listening to holiday tunes on
an old radio on Sunday, union members at Eramet Marietta plan to do the
same today and Tuesday.
“We’re as strong as ever and being out
here in the cold and during the holidays shows our unity,” said Ed
Scott, 51, of Parkersburg, one of about 300 union workers considered
locked out of the Ohio 7 facility for the past four months.
August, workers voted down a new contract that would have frozen
pension plans and modified medical benefits. Union members offered to
continue working under their old contract, but Eramet officials refused
and little progress has been made to resolve the issue.
Just a few weeks ago, workers voted down a second contract offer from the specialty alloy maker. No new talks are scheduled.
“We’re just trying to keep what we’ve got, not really get anything more,” Scott said.
average age of the union workforce at Eramet is 50. About a quarter of
the workers are within a few years of retirement, which helps explain
why proposed changes in pension plans and retiree medical costs led to
picket lines forming.
Paul Bibbee, 59, of Fleming, was camped
outside the plant on Sunday. The 35-year employee said he planned to be
back today. He said his wife was a little disappointed by his decision
to be away from home for part of Christmas.
“This is important. And there are some guys with young families who need to be home,” Bibbee said.
The union workers have had people outside the company’s gates every hour since the start of the lockout.
one good thing has come of this, it’s that I’ve gotten to know a lot of
good people,” Scott said. “I didn’t know half of the guys in this
plant. I may have known them by face, but being out here has helped us
get to know each other and to really bring us together.”
addition to frozen pensions, the proposed contracts left employees the
option of enrolling in a modified benefit plan of $30 a month for each
year of service (plus what the worker 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.
Eramet officials say the
concessions in medical costs and retirement are necessary to ensure the
long-term viability of the plant. The specialty metal plant has
operated for more than 50 years in Marietta under different ownership.
average Eramet union worker earns $19.53 per hour. As part of the new
contract, the company proposed a pay increase of $1.71 per hour over
the next three years.