WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The union representing Steinerfilm employees will be protesting a proposed change in benefits on Sunday.
The Local 81231 of the International Union of Electronic, Electrical, Salaried, Machine and Furniture Workers representing 18 Steinerfilm employees said it has filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board and is now taking to the street in protest.
The union is claiming that Steinerfilm denied a cancer-stricken employee short-term disability. They also claim the company is planning to put language in the next contract that would take short-term disability, life insurance and death and dismemberment benefits away after an employee has been laid off for 90 days.
"They're in clear violation of the contract and we're outraged by it," Chief Stewart Gary Allard said on Thursday. "We can't tolerate that language."
Allard said the company initially refused one worker the paperwork to file for short-term disability but after months of pressure finally gave him them. But Allard said he is skeptical that the employee will actually receive the benefits.
In the course of that debate, Allard said the company stated intention to add language into the contract during the the upcoming negotiations that adds the 90-days clause but an official proposal has not yet been given to union representatives.
"They did state that they will be going after this language," Allard said. "I have no reason to believe it's not going to be there."
The biggest reason the benefits are such an issue to workers is because they are often laid off and those periods do exceed 90 days, Allard said.
Now after internal discussions between the union and the company has not yielded the results the union wants, Allard said they are organizing an information picket to rally support. On Sunday, the union is calling on politicians, community members and other organizations to rally at 10 a.m. outside of the company's Simonds Road mill.
"It was voted unanimously by the union to have this informational picket. It could have been called off if they gave something in writing that said they would not try to bring that language," Allard said. "We just want bodies. We want people. We want support."
The picket is not a strike. While the entire union supports the rally, only half will be able to attend because the other half will be working, Allard said.
"The mill runs continuously, around the clock so half of the people are going to be working," Allard said. "I expect it to be peaceful."
Allard said he does not know what to expect for support on Sunday but tried to contact as many people he could. He said he has contacted other organizations such as the Occupy Berkshires and the April 4th Coalition for support.
The union, which represents only the employees working in one of the company's mills, is expected to start contract negotiations in April. Steinerfilms employs more than 100 non-union workers in another division.
iBerkshires.com welcomes critical, respectful dialogue. Name-calling, personal attacks, libel, slander or foul language is not allowed. All comments are reviewed before posting and will be deleted or edited as necessary.
We are only hearing one side of the story?? If the company is wrong then the N.L.R.B. will take care of it. So what is the proplem. Do the members pay for the insurance ?? If so how much if not why not ask to pay some of it , or do you expect the company to pay for everything. Is this company a private company or does it run on goverment money. To many questions that have to be answered . What does the other side have to say.
Who pays for the health insurance when the employees are not working for ninety days ?? When the company is closed down for ninety days are they still making money ??? How many times have the employees been laid off the ninety days ? If you are not working for six months a year isn't it time to find another job ??
If the company is so bad why is it that the union represents less than 20% of the employees ??? They want people to stand out for them ?? Why ?? When over 80% of the employees are happy , why should anyone stand out in the street ??? I am sorry but the numbers do not add up. It sounds like one or two people seem to have an axe to grind. It seems that they must be paid well enough that they will not take another job while being laid off so much . They want people to think the compahy is bad but wait months to be called back ??? Make up your mind.
It really sounds like management has bungled this from the get go and has chosen to antagonize the union rather than work collaboratively. "Take this or else..." is not exactly an effective method.
Years of watching stuff like this in other places leads me to wonder if a) they are setting the stage for breaking the union, b) they are going move, or declare bankruptcy, or sell, etc... and blame the union. Or both.
These 18 guys have been bending over bacwards for years. They have been a union since 1984, clearly that alone has not caused them to close the plant. Rumours of such have circulated since the 80's.Anyone who knows anything is aware of the uselessness of the NLRB,they force little locals like this one to arbtrate everything. OSHA is also a paper tiger. The best solution is for an organized group of workers willing to act on their own behalf and for each other. Your obviously mngmt. lackeys doing Elsies bidding. You should have stopped and talked to these guysand educated yourself. Who else would post at 09:48 before the picket started. Not very bright Randy even if daddy defends you.
It sounds like the sleeping dog has rabies. Threats about going to peoples homes and frighting childred ?? Rep. Cariddi agrees with this. Wow. Why hasn"t someone answered the above questions ?? Who payes for the health insurance when they are off for 3 months at a time ??? Why is it that less than 20% of the company is union if it treats the workers so bad ??? Please answer the questions instead of just attacking the the person that is asking .
well, let me first state that this is not about health insurance. people need to distinguish the difference, between short disability, life insurance and death and dismemberment insurance. none of the articles i have read any where say HEALTH INSURANCE. This is not about that. This is about the three previous mentione insurances that are clearly outlined in the signed contract which states the company will pay for and provide this insurances. there are no time limits or constrants.Read march 6 letter to the editor in the Transcript from the chief steward
livengit Just trying to understand . So this really evil employer pays all the health insurance when you are not working ?? And for doing this instead of waiting for the N.L.R.B ruleing you threaten to go to the homes of the management and frighten women and children ??? Sorry but that is sick. I hope every employeer in the area has seen your threats . I am sure they woiuld love to hire people that if they do not get what they want they will go to your home to intimadate your family. Gail . Shame on you.
Sounds like MAD DOGS not sleeping dogs. Anyway I hope you get everything you derserve.
NOT ABOUT HEALTH INSURANCE!!!!I do not recall reading anything about an evil employer. Thats your terminology. I don't recall anything about women & children. This is an employer that is not honoring the contract they signed. Do you think they have contracts with their customers? their vendors? What happens if they do not honor those contracts? What about this guys family with the cancer? What happens to them when he can't work? When they have no money because this company was not going to allow him a clear contract benefit? that would have allowed him to collect ^60% of his wages? And believe me if the Union did not file a grievance this Company would have not allowed him this right. At least the women & children you speak of will have a roof over their head .
There is obviously a right wing union hater using many names who does not understand that unions are a right and that contracts are negotiated. Both are matters of law and well defined.
Using the language of AM radio hosts to describe your political adversaries needs to stop.
Steinerfilm appears to be going through a Kodak moment in a digital age. Hopefully they can re-purpose their operations, or they will become as useless a Polaroid Camera on Facebook. The leadership needed to survive is 100% management, and it sure looks like they are having trouble stepping up to the plate.
i agree with livingit . unions are voted in to protect employees from un fair work practices.this area was built on union labor and i would bet most of the residrnts here had parents and grandparents who were a big part of that workforce.if your employer ever tries to take away benifets that affect you and your families you will wish you had the support of our hard working unions to stand by you