Kaiser labor dispute talks begin again

Published 12:00 am Monday, January 11, 1999

By LEONARD GRAY / L’Observateur / January 11, 1999

GRAMERCY – New talks have begun in the Kaiser Aluminum labor dispute, which has 350 union employees walking the picket lines at the Gramercy plant.

Scott Lamb, vice president of investor relations and corporate communications, confirmed a meeting was held Thursday to set up more in-depth talks next week, beginning Monday at 10 a.m. in Chicago.From Thursday’s meeting, Kaiser announced the selection of Jeremy Sherman as its new chief negotiator. Sherman, a partner in the company’soutside legal counsel on labor matters, will work with the in-house attorneys and plant representatives.

He replaced David Pryzbylski, who led the labor talks since August, which resulted in the Sept. 30 walkout.Kaiser’s president and CEO, Ray Milchovich, commented, “Dave’s work for the company during this difficult period has been exemplary. With over 20years of experience in labor matters, he fulfilled his role at Kaiser with the highest level of integrity and commitment.”Wayne Stafford, president of Local 5702 United Steel Workers of America, commented, “Of course, our hopes are this will develop into more than a two-day meeting and hope some real negotiations start.”At the Dec. 17 meeting between union and company representatives, Kaiseroffered a new package by way of the federal mediator. Union negotiators,however, had already walked out of the meeting.

Kaiser’s latest offer includes a $1,000 ratification bonus, an average hourly wage increase of $3.13, the elimination of antiquated work rulesand a contract dated to Sept. 30, 2003.A major sticking point is the planned elimination of 700 jobs throughout Kaiser’s five plants.

Approximately 3,000 Kaiser union employees walked out on the evening of Sept. 30 after contract negotiations broke down and the previous contractexpired. Before midnight, security teams swept in and began erectingfences and guard towers at major plant entrances.

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