CLEARWATER, Fla., Feb. 2 /PRNewswire/ — The United Steelworkers of America (USW) will offer to enter into long-term agreements with two major American can manufacturers in exchange for wage and benefit improvements, periodic wage reopeners, employment security, worker involvement and other advancements when contract negotiations open here this week, it was announced today.
Talks between the USW and American National Can and Crown, Cork & Seal are tentatively set to begin Feb. 4, or Feb. 5. The union represents a total of 3,965 workers at the two companies — 2,741 at American National facilities in 31 cities, and 1,224 at Crown, Cork facilities in 17 cities. The current contract, signed in 1989, expires Feb. 21.
Leon Lynch, the USW International vice president/human affairs, and chief negotiator with the can industry, said the proposals to be made to the two companies represent the union’s “new directions” approach to collective bargaining.
“The workers, their union, and these companies have built prospering enterprises that have benefited the companies, the workers and their communities,” Lynch said. “Our goal in these talks is to build upon this success, preserve the good jobs we have created, and expand employment opportunities.
“All parties to these negotiations have a responsibility to create an atmosphere in which we can continue progressing.”
The contract objectives were adopted at a meeting here on Feb. 1, of the union’s Can Industry Conference, composed of USW Local Union presidents and district directors in areas in which the companies operate.
Employment security was high on the list.
“We’ve lost significant numbers of members because of plant closings, mergers, shifting of production to non-union locations and technological changes in the last seven years,” Lynch said. “We’re calling on the companies to reverse this trend and work with us to restore these jobs.”
In 1986, the USW represented 8,200 members at American Can, National Can, Continental and Crown Cork. Since then, American has acquired National and Crown Cork has acquired Continental, resulting in the closing of some operations to eliminate excess capacity. Other union jobs have been lost to competition from smaller operators; technology, which Lynch said has increased production by at least 33 percent; and the shift of production by the companies to non-union plants.
“We want these companies to open some of the closed operations and to declare a moratorium on closings,” Lynch said. “They should not be taking away the good jobs that we have created. As for the competition,” Lynch added, “the companies have not been vigilant enough in protecting their market share. If they concentrate on reaching agreement with us, they’ll be better able to focus on the competition.”
To help in that process, Lynch said, the union is willing to sign long-term contracts that provide wage re-openers.
In addition to employment security, the union is seeking wage increases, a strengthening of language banning the contracting out of work, a successorship clause to bind any buyer to terms of the agreement, and automatic union recognition when a majority of employees have signed cards asking for collective bargaining rights.
/CONTACT: Leon Lynch, USW vice president/human affairs, 813-442-0498; or USW Communications Department, 412-562-2442/
CO: United Steelworkers United Steelworkers (USW)
historic labour union representing workers in steel, aluminum, and other metallurgical industries for much of the 20th century. In the U.S.