National education and labor news

Upstate NY chemical plant workers end long strike

A strike at the Momentive chemical plant in upstate New York came to an end on Feb. 14 as workers voted to approve a new labor contract. The plant’s 700 workers, represented by IUE-CWA, had picketed outside the plant 24 hours a day for 105 days since walking off the job.

The three-year deal includes cuts in health insurance for current workers, the end of health insurance for retired workers and loss of vacation time. The local union president tried to put the best face on it, noting “we didn’t lose some of the things that the company initially wanted to take from us.”

Hedge-fund managers had purchased the plant when General Electric spun it off in 2006. The new management soon demanded givebacks from the unionized workers. The union also said management attempted to change job classifications in order to reduce wages.

A key sticking point in the negotiations between Momentive’s workers and management was the fate of some 40 workers who were fired while walking the picket line. The agreement offers the fired workers a hearing to determine if they can return to their jobs. 

Albany Times Union, Feb. 9 and 14
Politico, Feb. 6

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