Members of Local Labor Union 2448 of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers [IAMAW] voted overwhelmingly Saturday night to go on strike 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.
"I think people had a good idea that this was coming and as far as money goes, some people prepared and some didn't," said Laurie Jones, a worker on strike with 10 years in at Clarion Sintered Metals. "Everyone was prepared to make a stand and fight for what they believe they should be getting."
According to a statement, union members are seeking to return to the negotiating table with CSM immediately to resolve the issues and return to work as soon as possible.
For Aaron Goodreau, a CSM employee on strike, the revolt was no surprise.
"We knew this was coming and we want a better pension," Goodreau said. "We're trying to get equal pay for everybody up there. We can't really afford this."
After a couple of weeks, employees on strike will reportedly be paid roughly $150 in strike benefits.
"I'm hoping it doesn't last that long but it's totally up to [management]," Goodreau said. "We're willing to negotiate at any time and [management] already knows that, we're just waiting for word from them."
Mandatory overtime is also an issue at the forefront of the conflict.
"It's all mandatory and we've been doing this for almost two years now, six or seven days a week, and I think everybody is just getting burned out by it," Goodreau said. "We seem to be shorthanded in a lot of areas over there and you try to get a day off to spend time with family, but you just can't do it because you're not getting the time off. We're just trying to limit this mandatory overtime.
"I have one kid that's in school and it's tough-- I'm not married but it is tough to make ends meet. There are other people here with families and it's tough on them because you spend more of your life in this place versus time with your family."
Mark Collins, another disgruntled CSM employee on strike, believes the company is able to offer a better pension plan than the one they are currently offering.
"People are going to be getting minimal amounts from this," Collins said. "When I retire, I'll get $825 a month from the company. The cost of living increases are higher than what we've been getting in pay increases-- I've been here 19 years and [management] has never matched the cost-of-living increase.
"It's not like we're really even asking them to, but we just want a fair raise for everyone-- they want to give a skilled laborer a higher raise than the people that work and do the operation of the plant-- they're not willing to give a fair raise to everybody. It's mainly the pension and the wages as the reasons why we're out here."
Nearby, sipping on a Coke in the afternoon sunlight is Al Dush, a 64-year-old CSM employee with nearly 47 years invested at the plant-- more than two-thirds of his lifetime.
"The issues with the pension bother me the most because I have almost 47 years in and my pension is nothing basically-- I'll get just a hair over $700 a month for 47 years," Dush said. "It bothers me the most because I'm at the point where I'm probably not going to stick out a 5-year contract anyway as fair as these other people are, but the pension means a lot to me now, and it'll mean a lot to these people too when they get to that age."
Pick up a copy of the Thursday, April 19, 2012 edition of The Ridgway Record for more.