Good Humor-Breyers plant workers reach contract deal

May 11, 1999|By BRUCE HAMILTON

Good Humor-Bryers Ice Cream plant union workers settled a contract dispute Saturday, according to Larry Lorshbaugh, president of United Steelworkers of America Local 9386.

About 373 of the local chapter's 440 members attended the eight-hour meeting with a federal mediator at the Ramada Inn, Lorshbaugh said.

He said 326 voted for the new contract, 37 voted against and 10 abstained.

The ratification ends a series of unsuccessful negotiations that began when the employees' contract expired in August. The workers have been without a contract since.

They picketed and protested and rejected several proposals before the company made what it said was a final offer in November. On Saturday, both sides reached a compromise.


"The company came back and they actually gave us half of what we asked for, which was pretty good," Lorshbaugh said.

Plant Manager Dean Palmer said Good Humor representatives met with the union more than 25 times. The company feels the contract is fair and reasonable, he said. "We're glad the process is complete and we're ready to move forward."

The biggest sticking point in the negotiations was language governing employees' grievance procedures, Lorshbaugh said. The new contract spells out that a maximum of two arbitration panels will be used within two months, according to Lorshbaugh.

Union workers got a $350 signing bonus for accepting the contract, he said.

The company also agreed to supply calf-high rubber boots for workers on the third shift who often get soaked cleaning up with hoses, he said. The workers have been buying the boots themselves, he said.

The contract also specifies that the company must give two hours notice to extend a worker's shift, according to Lorshbaugh. Previously, employees had to stay at the plant and keep working if their replacements didn't show up, he said.

The new contract expires Aug. 5, 2001, and includes a $1.50 wage increase over three years, according to Lorshbaugh. Workers got a 48-cent increase this year; they will get 50 cents more in August and 52 cents in 2000, he said.

Palmer declined to comment on specific details of the contract.

Lorshbaugh said there are still unresolved labor issues. For example, the union wants higher pension benefits, but negotiations will not begin again until May 2001.

For now, Lorshbaugh said he is happy. "I feel we came up with a fair and equitable agreement between both parties."

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