By Ken de la Bastide
Tribune enterprise editor
TIPTON — The union representing workers at the Steel Parts manufacturing facility in Tipton has ratified a new three-year contract that will keep the plant in operation.
In December, company officials notified the Indiana Department of Workforce Development that it expected to permanently close the facility and layoff all workers. But the notice said it was negotiating with United Steelworkers International Union, Local 3785.
Scott Sigler, president of the union, said the membership voted 101 to 49 in favor of the new contract. Sigler said when negotiations started the company wanted to idle half of the plant, but the new agreement calls for the loss of 36 jobs.
“I don’t think they wanted to close the plant totally,” he said. “The contract changes were minimal. This is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.”
Sigler said Steel Parts went through a bankruptcy in 2006 and a contract renegotiation in 2009.
Monomoy Capital Partners purchased Steel Parts from Resilience Capital Partners in 2011.
When negotiations first started, Sigler said the company wanted a 30 percent reduction in wages, a cut in seniority rights and to eliminate recall rights, mandatory overtime seven days a week, a change in the grievance procedure, reduction in company contributions to a retirement plan and the right to hire temporary or part-time work force.
“We are receiving a 25-cent per hour raise in each of the next three years and a $2,000 signing bonus,” Sigler said. “Our 401K contribution stayed, the company can’t hire temporary or part-time employees and the grievance procedure was shortened.”
The severance package negotiated with the company provides $3,000 and the $2,000 signing bonus for employees with less than two years and $6,500 and the signing bonus for workers with more than two years, he said.
“We did lose 36 jobs, but we have a lot of people close to retirement age,” Sigler said. “This was a loss for everyone, but we kept the plant open.”
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