Menomonee Falls-based Arandell Corp., a manufacturer of high-end catalogs, says that it has reached a new labor agreement with its employees in the Graphic Communications Conference/International Brotherhood of Teamsters District Council 1 union. [caption id="attachment_556869" align="alignleft" width="300"] Brad Hoffman[/caption] The new agreement includes a 13% increase to entry-level wages, as well as several other new benefits in the latest three-year contract, the company says. The company says the new labor contract will help it attract workers. Brad Hoffman, president & CEO at Arandell, said the company has been growing quickly but has been hindered due to a lack of manpower. Arandell has had to turn work away due to a lack of employees on the shop floor, he said. "We have been growing rather dramatically and we have plenty of equipment capacity on the floor but the challenge we are experiencing is we can’t get enough folks to man the equipment,” Hoffman said. When entering negotiations with the union, Arandell leadership examined the labor market and its competition. It became clear that an upgrade to entry-level wages was needed to attract new employees, Hoffman said. Arandell also expanded the time frame for which it will pay employees double time and introduced a new holiday – Martin Luther King Jr. Day. A new position within the bindery has also been created that allows employees another chance for advancement. Union representative Perry Kettner said the 13% increase to wages for entry level positions is much larger than a typical wage increase, but is warranted in today’s labor market. Negotiations for the new contract began in February and were wrapped up by August – the quickest turnaround Kettner has seen in 20 years. He attributes the quickness of this year’s negotiations to the fact that both parties came to the table with a feeling of true partnership. “We just met with local people who were most affected by any changes in the contract, and that really seemed to help narrow the issues down to those that were good for everybody,” Kettner said. Under the new labor contract there is another new chance for advancement within the company through the introduction of levels. The more equipment an employee can operate, the higher level they are. Employees working at a higher level receive more pay. Some new benefits were also added to help with the retention of current employees. Loyalty bonuses for employees who have been with the company for several years were implemented. The program has been so popular that some employees who had expected to retire chose to keep working for a few more years. “We’ve actually seen some improvements in our employee counts. We’re up by 20 or so (people),” Hoffman said. “We still have about 100 positions that we’re still looking for across the board.” Arandell has also introduced a restructured apprenticeship program which provides a pipeline of younger employees. Apprentices can move through the program more quickly and then work for the company at a much higher starting wage. To give workers more flexibility and attract others who may not be able to work a traditional shift, Arandell has added part-time positions. New 10-hour shifts have also been introduced, giving workers the option of taking a four-day work week. If they choose to work on Friday, it will become an overtime day. Hoffman said the union was pleased with the addition of so many new benefits and representatives quickly voted in favor of the new contract. He’s optimistic the contract will help Arandell find workers for its remaining open positions. “When the company and the employees look at themselves as partners, then more can be accomplished,” Kettner said. “When we recognize our common ground and interest, it benefits everybody.”
Holiday flash sale! Subscribe to BizTimes and save nearly 40%!