UAW Local 469 members at Master Lock held an informational picket near the company’s plant in Milwaukee on Friday to protest the company’s current contract offer. The action is not a strike and the union encouraged members to continue working.
About 350 UAW members at Master Lock are working without a contract while both sides meet with a federal mediator, the union said. The UAW agreement with Master Lock expired March 31, and was extended to April 3. The parties have yet to reach an agreement.
“The company has demanded the elimination of retirement benefits for active workers, and proposed to shift more health care costs to those workers,” the union said in a news release. “In addition, the company’s offer also continued an unfair two-tier benefits structure and failed to provide adequate wage increases. The two-tier system already denies some workers a pension. Workers overwhelmingly voted down those terms. At the same time the company made these demands, it notified current retirees they were considering changing or terminating their health and life insurance benefits.”
Bob Rice, senior vice president-global supply chain at Master Lock, released the following statement:
“We are working hard to close our gaps and agree on a new multi-year contract with our local UAW 469 membership. We have made good progress and we are willing to be patient in order to achieve an outcome that is good for our employees, the company and community.
“We have an incredibly dedicated workforce and union Board who are collectively making every effort to help us find ways to continue to expand our operations in Milwaukee, and more importantly, facilitate new job opportunities that are vital to the Metcalfe Park district. We want to be here and our employees know that. We are asking for their help in addressing some longstanding retiree healthcare benefits. We respect that it’s an important decision for them and we will keep an open dialogue in mutually working through these issues. The intent of tomorrow’s rally is informational and not intended to be disruptive; we respect their right to express themselves in any way that helps our discussions progress.”
UAW Local 469 president Mike Bink said:
“We want an agreement, and our members have consistently worked with Master Lock to help the company be successful. We were there during those hard times. We sacrificed. Our members are people who just want to share in the company’s success and be able to retire with dignity. We have earned that. Anything less is simply wrong for workers, wrong for families and wrong for the community.”