Keep Solidarity in Christmas
Wisconsin unions come to the aid of striking UAW members during the most wonderful time of year
Nearly 5 weeks ago, workers in Wisconsin walked off their job at Kohler and began walking picket lines in the rain, sleet and snow, morning, noon and night. Now it appears that their efforts have resulted in a tentative contract between the UAW Local 833 and Kohler. If the contract is approved by the 2,000 members, it would end a strike that began on November 15th. At the vote, on Wednesday night, 91% of members voted to approve the contract and everyone reported back to work on Thursday morning.
Over the four and a half weeks that Local 833 has been on strike, many local unions came through to help their brothers and sisters. Local unions like the Wisconsin Teachers donated toys to the member’s children, the International Union of Operating Engineers donated $10,000 and 30 turkeys for the union’s food pantry, and the Carpenters wrote a $42,000 check to help keep the relief fund alive.
The main sticking point in negotiations were Kohler’s plan to increase health care costs for the members and the elimination of a two tiered wage structure. The two tiered wage structure was put in during the last contract battle in 2010 and pays new workers significantly less than longer tenured workers. It also will pay the younger employees less over their time working at Kohler.
“We worked very hard to reach an agreement that addresses all of the key areas crucial to the future of our members,” said UAW Local 833 President Tim Tayloe. “The agreement significantly brings one tier associate pay closer to the other, while also providing substantial wage increases in each year of the contract. All benefits have been enhanced and the modifications to the healthcare plans have reduced the potential for increased out-of-pocket costs to our membership.”
According to company, the deal will allow Kohler to stay competitive in the market and continue manufacturing bath and kitchen fixtures, small engines and generators in their Wisconsin plant.