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Local News

April 26, 2014

Union members approve Carter Fuel contract

With 100 absent, vote passes by slim margin

Carter Fuel Systems employees voted in favor of accepting a new four-year contract by a slim margin Saturday.

Approval of the contract passed by a margin of 14 out of the 212 members present, United Steelworkers Local 4863 president Becky Hanawalt said Saturday evening.

Employees had approved the previous contract by an overwhelming 206-17.

About a hundred members didn't show up for the Saturday vote, Hawalt added, which she said was "very unusual."

"They had two days to read it, so I thought, well evidently they read it and were satisfied," she said.

Negotiations began March 3 and often took place over the weekend due to a negotiator's schedule, Hanawalt said.

The contract has its good points and bad points, she said.

It calls for a 30-cent raise in each of the first two years of the four-year contract and a 35-cent raise in the latter two years. Hanawalt said the raises were a point of controversy among union members.

"They weren't real happy with that," she said. "We've gotten 50, 55 [cents] in the past."

The previous contract included raises of 35 cents in the first and fourth years and 50 cents in the second and third years. That contract expired April 1.

However, Hanawalt wasn't surprised by the lower raises, she said, since the company lacks the "corporate backing" it used to have now that it's its own entity.

"I have mixed feelings myself about it. It was a tough negotiation," Hanawalt said.

Formerly owned by Federal Mogul, the plant was one of seven the company sold off in 2013.

Employees' share of the cost of insurance coverage also went up slightly, Hanawalt said, but new employees did receive pensions. The previous contract had discontinued offering pensions for new hires.

That change affects about half the workforce at Carter Fuel Systems, Hanawalt said, who had been hired within the last three years.

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