LABOR NEWS UPDATE: Contract Talks Between CWA-IUE-Represented Workers At Momentive Plant In Waterford Fall Apart
Striking Workers Travel To New York City Today To Deliver 4,000 Signatures Demanding Company Negotiate New Deal
(WATERFORD, NEW YORK) - Striking International Union of Electricians (IUE)-Communications Workers of America (CWA) Local 81359/81380-represented Workers are calling on billionaire Leon Black to negotiate a contract between their Union and Momentive Performance Materials in Waterford, The Saratogian reports.
The Workers plan to deliver 4,000 signatures to Black’s firm, Apollo Global Management, in New York City today (Friday, January 13th). The move comes two days after talks between the Union and company broke down, with no immediate plans for further negotiations.
The Strike began on November 2nd that involves 700 Union-represented Unionized Workers at Momentive Performance Materials, who charge the company wants to reduce health care and retirement benefits under a proposed three-year contract. Talks scheduled to last three days, the first since the Strike started, had gotten under way Tuesday with help from a federal mediator.
Momentive makes adhesives and sealants, involving dangerous chemicals, for the construction and automotive industries.
IUE-CWA Local 81359/81380 Members are continuing their long fight for a fair and equitable agreement with Momentive, which - so far - has refused to bargain in good faith, instead making proposals that would slash health care, take back Younger Members Retirement Security and eliminate all future benefits for Retirees.
Union President Dom Patrignani recently told WNYLaborToday.com the Strike is “hurting” Momentive economically and has applied further pressure on the company to end the walkout and bargain a new contract: “Their stock is ‘down’ twenty-percent and ($100 million) ‘across the board.’ Even though the ‘overall economy is great, the company is taking a tumble.’ It ‘doesn’t make sense’ (why Momentive won’t work towards bringing the Strike to an end).”
CWA Union Executive Robert Master said the Union had “offered major concessions” in negotiations held this week: “By ‘increasing’ health-care contributions and ‘reducing’ health and welfare benefits coverage for our Retirees in an ‘earnest attempt to help the company cut costs.’ Momentive ‘continued its attacks’ on Workers and, ‘ultimately, the community at large’ in Waterford by ‘being unwilling to negotiate any terms whatsoever.’ Instead, they ‘pursued a secret, emergency injunction’ during the time of a bargaining session. That injunction was ‘denied’ by the judge who ‘advocated for the company to renew bargaining’ with its Workers ‘in earnest.’”
The Unionized Workers say they’ve already made concessions in each of the last two three-year contracts. The latest contract expired in June.
Momentive says policy changes are needed to strengthen the firm’s financial position. The company reported a $17 million third-quarter net loss.
But actual ownership of Momentive Performance Materials - sold to a New York City-based hedge fund a decade ago by General Electric Company- is a corporate web that includes six billionaires on the Forbes magazine list of the nation's 400 richest people, including a man named this month by President-elect Donald Trump as his chief job creation adviser, The Albany Times Union has reported.
Stephen Schwarzman, founder and CEO of the Blackstone Group, will have Trump's ear on economic and tax policy as head of the President's Strategic and Policy Forum, a group of more than a dozen captains of industry, including former GE CEO Jack Welch (For More, Go to: www.timesunion.com/tuplus-business/article/Momentive-chemical-faces-state-environmental-10854647.php).
On another front, there is a growing safety concern at the chemical plant as replacement Workers have taken over the jobs of the highly-trained- and -skilled IUE-CWA Local 81359/81380 Members who handle extremely hazardous materials at the plant on a daily basis.
This week, Union Leaders and local officials, including Waterford Supervisor Jack Lawler, are questioning the plant’s recent safety record.
The CWA’s Master said replacement first responders didn’t follow a spill response plan during a recent incident, allowing materials to reach groundwater. A recently-reported spill reported involved approximately 10 gallons of diesel fuel from a tractor-trailer.
“A ‘sheen’ was reported on the Mudderkill Creek and booms were deployed on one side to prevent the fuel from reaching the creek,” the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) said. “It does not appear that either spill reached the Hudson River.”
No hazardous waste was involved.
Since the Strike began, there have been three wastewater spills and 35 other spills, including 12 spills attributed to contractors working at the facility, the DEC said.
“All of the spills were addressed quickly and effectively with DEC oversight,” DEC spokesperson Erica Ringewald said. “DEC continues its regular onsite monitoring of the facility to ensure that it is in compliance with environmental regulations and permit requirements that are protective of human health and the environment.”
However, the 38 total spills from November 2nd, 2016 to January 10th (2017) are more than triple the 12 spills reported for the same time a year ago - and the highest of any same nine-week period from 2011 to 2015.