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Union rep: 'Not budging'

April 19, 2012

Photo by Joseph Bell – Protesters display signs Thursday afternoon along state Route 948 [Montmorenci Road] in Ridgway Township outside Clarion Sintered Metals.

Members of Local Labor Union 2448 of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers [IAMAW] continued their strike Thursday against Clarion Sintered Metals [CSM] in order to obtain their goals of less mandatory overtime, a better pension plan and the same percentage wage for workers.
According to Robert D. Miller, a business representative of District Lodge No. 98 of IAMAW, negotiations have been nonexistent.
"On Saturday night we told the company we were ready, willing, able, and available to meet with them," Miller said. "I sent them two letters since then saying the same thing and we have still not heard a word from the company."
Despite management disregarding the workers on strike, Miller indicated Thursday that they are "in it for the long haul."
"The people are taking the company on and their spirits are high, and I don't know if [management] thinks ignoring them will deter these people but we're steadfast, and we're dug in, we're not budging," Miller said. "Everybody out here is losing money but they decided that they were going to take a stand, and that's what they're doing.
"For the last 10 years they've gotten minimal raises because times weren't too good in here. The company was suffering a little bit and these guys suffered right along with them. Now the times are good and now [the workers] want to share in the wealth."
Just as workers on strike may have difficulty making financial ends meet, Miller said it is up to management when it comes to whether or not the company can afford to have workers on strike.
"As far as affording to do this, that's up to [management]," Miller said. "We're willing and available to go back to the table but [members of management] do not want to meet at the table. We're just waiting for them.
"There are people who work here right now that, when the company was in trouble, invested their own money in the company to keep it going, and now these people have been here for 47 years and can't afford to retire."
Louie Asti, one of the workers on strike, will have been employed there for 18 years come May.
"I want to retire here soon within a few months-- I'll roughly be getting maybe a little bit more than $300 for retirement. That's not even the best part of it," Asti said. "Al Dush, he has almost 47 years in and he's going to get $700 [pension each month]-- I'm here 18 years, [Dush] is here 47 years-- I'm getting half as much as he's getting and he's one of the guys who invested money in this place to get it going when there were hard times years ago."
Mandatory overtime also has been under scrutiny amongst the disgruntled workers.
"The mandatory overtime has been ridiculous too, they're lucky to be able to get a day off," Miller said. "Some of these people are working an 8- or 12-hour shift and then you have someone [from management] come tap them on the shoulder 20 minutes before they're ready to leave and say, 'Oh, by the way, you have to stay another four hours.'"
An unidentified telephone operator at CSM indicated CSM president Howard Peterson was unavailable and the operator would not take a message, saying she "didn't think [Peterson] had any comment."

Pick up a copy of the Friday, April 20, 2012 edition of The Ridgway Record for more.

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