NEWELL - Unionized employees at the Homer Laughlin China Co., one of the tri-state area's largest employers, have a new labor contract that ensures wages and benefits for the next three years.
Negotiators for the labor and management sides worked into the early morning hours of Friday, past their deadline, to come to an agreement. Homer Laughlin's contract with the Glass, Molders, Pottery, Plastics & Allied Workers International Union (GMPIU), Local 419, expired at midnight Thursday.
"I feel that both negotiating teams ... worked very diligently to obtain a fair contract for both sides," said Charles Bartley, Local 419 president.
The main office of the Homer Laughlin China Co. in Newell, framed by a sign bearing the Fiesta logo. (Photo by Stephen Huba)
Negotiations began on Nov. 5 and continued on a daily basis until the contract expiration date. "We met numerous times during the day," said Bartley, a caster at the Homer Laughlin plant on Fiesta Drive in Newell.
Neither Bartley nor company spokesman Dan Williams would discuss details of the contract, except to say that it covers three years and expires Nov. 15, 2015.
"I feel that detailed information should come from us as opposed to the news media," Bartley said.
The last contract, reached in 2007, was for five years. "The company seemed interested in a three-year contract, so that's why it's three years," Bartley said.
The contract also retains current medical coverage levels for unionized workers, he said.
After an agreement was reached, at 2:30 a.m. Friday, both sides voted to ratify the contract. The union has a clause in its constitution that says the negotiating team can ratify the contract on behalf of the membership at-large.
"We felt that we needed to ratify at the table, so that's what we did," Bartley said.
Members will be apprised of new contract details in the week after Thanksgiving, he said. There are more than 650 members in Local 419.
Bartley said negotiations benefited from a positive labor-management relationship at Homer Laughlin. "I feel that both negotiating teams were very respectful toward each other," he said.
The Local 419 negotiating team was: Bartley; David Rice, vice president; Roger Potts, conferee; Kevin Green, conferee/shop steward; and Frank Beaver, conferee.
Negotiating for Homer Laughlin were: Charles Henderson; Ken McElhaney, vice president for manufacturing; Gary Satmare; and Ralph Smith.
Local 419 was chartered in 1979.