Local Salisbury union reaches new agreement for workers with Granges America
Published at 12:02 Tuesday 6 December 2022
SALISBURY — On Nov. 27, United Steelworkers Local 8573 entered into a new collective bargaining agreement with Granges America.
The union had signed a five-year contract in November 2018 that was set to expire next year, but the Granges were asked to look at the deal again after workers’ wages fell since then.
Key union negotiators who helped with the deal are Dock Corpening, Robert Harper, Demetris Royal, Jason Everhart, Brian Fox, Brendan Trivett and Chris McCullough.
“Our biggest problem was that we had two pay scales. We had a pay scale that was put in place after our layoffs in 2009, we had a pay scale that we worked on, but everyone who was hired from 2009 to today was on a different pay scale, union president Chris McCullough said.
People hired since 2009 received an average pay increase of $4.53 an hour, and people hired before then received an average pay increase of $2.50 an hour. Health benefits also take effect immediately after employment instead of the previous 60-day waiting period. The new three-year deal will have no financial increases in insured health benefits and will include an annual 3 percent wage increase.
“We used to have a five-year deal, before that we had four-year deals, but a three-year deal, if the wage landscape changes, we’re able to come back and negotiate more quickly instead of having to fail the company,” explained McCullough.
With the gains to the current plan for workers, there should be room to negotiate certain things Granges America wanted.
“We had to give up some things called the progression line. Which requires you to learn the job above you, and when the opening comes, you have to go up and take those jobs. It limited some guys from changing departments, but in the overall scheme of things, with how high inflation is now and what other people are paying in wages, we mostly went for the money,” McCullough said.
This means that more people will stay in their own department more often. If workers want to fill a position in another department, they already get a chance there first at the opening, so seniority will matter more.
“At the end of the day, when you trade, you’re going to give up some things to get some things. We could have limited some of those things, but the money wouldn’t be as good,” McCullough said.
McCullough emphasizes the positive applications that the new agreement will mean for future workers and their commitment to the Granges.
“So when we bring in new people, we know we have stability. They’re able to fill orders for the next several years because we’re going to be here.”
What was important was to get the best deal for the workers seeing the Granges not as an enemy but as an ally.
“We work with the business, not in spite of the business,” McCullough said.