The United Steelworkers union said it gave Timken Co. executives a contract proposal on Friday and that “the parties discussed their mutual desire to secure the investment for the Canton area,” meaning spending $225 million to expand and upgrade its Faircrest steel mill.
The 2,300-member Local 1123 Golden Lodge said it noted that Timken just reported record profits for 2011. The maker of steel and bearings on Thursday said it earned $454.3 million on record revenue of $5.2 billion in 2011, largely driven by demand from the oil and gas industry.
Local 1123 members this month rejected a five-year contract proposal that the company wanted in order to expand Faircrest. Union officials said the rejection was largely over the continuation of a two-tier wage and benefit package and the elimination of a $5,000 retirement bonus.
Shortly after the failed Jan. 15 vote, Timken released a statement saying it was open to talking with the union about why the new contract was turned down. The current five-year contract with Local 1123 expires in 2013; Timken said it needed a new contract to ensure a stable work force during the planned two-year Faircrest expansion.
Timken last week said the union agreed to resume talks about a new contract.
The union late Friday published the following statement on a blog at www.uswa1123.blogspot.com:
“Earlier this week, the company contacted USW Sub District Director Dennis Brommer to discuss further negotiations for a new Basic Labor Agreement (BLA). Director Brommer, President Joe Hoagland and Vice President Duke Ellington met, agreed to pursue negotiations and called for the elected negotiators to meet at the Golden Lodge on Thursday.
“During the Thursday meeting, the negotiating committee discussed our members’ feedback surrounding the failed ratification. The committee prepared a proposal to present to the company and contacted them to arrange a meeting for Friday, January 27. Late in the day a meeting was arranged.
“At the Friday meeting the parties discussed their mutual desire to secure the investment for the Canton area. The negotiating committee pointed out the record profits the company has announced and presented the list of proposals. The company accepted the list and plans to respond. Additional meetings will be scheduled.
“During these negotiations, the negotiating committee has attempted to keep the membership informed through this blogspot. Some members have questioned why it does not contain more specific information. This blogspot is available to the general public and the media. We believe the details of a collective bargaining agreement should remain between the union and the company.”
Jim Mackinnon can be reached at 330-996-3544 or email@example.com.