Boilermakers Local 484 Lockout Update

From Marjorie Nehring, Jacksonville (IL) Journal-Courier reporter, November 11, 2005

Here's what I got out of the meeting:
A meeting held Wednesday evening between union leaders and Celanese Emulsions officials may be their last for a while.
The two groups discussed a contract amid union allegations against the company of bargaining in bad faith and possible charges against the company by the National Labor Relations Board. The two sides apparently still have very different ideas.
According to Kelly Street, president of the locked-out Boilermakers Local 484, part of the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmiths, Forgers and Helpers, the meeting seemed to move backwards.
We were going to discuss issues on our last proposal to them, Mr. Street said. They gave us a counter. It was a regressive counter.
Mr. Street said the company didnt have the costs lined out like they said they were going to have for the Wednesday meeting.
In addition to just having three problems with that proposal, it became a potpourri of other things, Mr. Street said. The one or two things that we believed we had remaining to get this contract ratified are now more or less based on another regressive counter.
Mr. Street also said there are no plans to meet again, and it seems kind of obvious to us they want to string this along for a long time.
Weve opened up the door to try to get this thing resolved, and by the time they got there and finally got them countered, it was like them saying We dont want this lockout to end. I just dont get it, Mr. Street said.
Celanese Emulsions site manager John Lakenan said the company is still hoping to mend the rift with the locked-out workers.
Were continuing to talk. Obviously we still have differences, but were trying to work through those, Mr. Lakenan said.
This is an ongoing process, Mr. Lakenan added. We just want to operate a successful facility and to continue to service our customers.
Part of working through the differences means a case with the National Labor Relations Board.
The union filed charges against Celanese Emulsions Aug. 25 with the board, accusing the plant of bargaining in bad faith after negotiations fell apart in mid-August. On Oct. 28, the union received word that the board intended to file charges against the company, accusing Celanese of bargaining in bad faith, according to International Union Representative Jim Pressley.
Company leaders took their case to the National Labor Relations Board to try to prevent the board from officially issuing charges against the company.
We were able to talk with them. They listened. They didnt give us any indication when or what their decision would be, Mr. Lakenan said about his firms meeting Monday with the labor board.
The National Labor Relations Boards officer-in-charge Will Vance did not return two messages Thursday afternoon.
The Celanese Emulsion chemical plant, which employs about 200 union and non-union workers, closed the plant to about 150 union employees June 5 and has since been operating with a replacement workforce.

Here's her article in the November 11, 2005 Journal Courier:

Celanese talks go backwards

A meeting Wednesday between Celanese Emulsions officials and union representatives seems to have set the talks backwards, according to a union spokesman. The company's latest offer was "regressive," according to the union. Still hanging over the labor dispute is a union complaintagainst the company with the National Labor Relations Board accusing Celanese of bargaining in bad faith.
Published: 11/11/2005

Email from Local 484, November 12, 2005

Dear Professor,

Hi, my name is Melissa Street. I am the wife and secretary of Local 484 President, Kelly Street. I would like to address your question concerning the status of the Labor Board Charges.

The Labor Board decided to grant Celanese another week to plead their case before filing the charge. The attorney for Celanese met with the Labor Board to supposedly submit new information concerning the charges against Celanese, and to add a charge of 'economic hardship' against Local 484. They maintain that they did not lower the terms of their contract proposal until after the 484 membership voted their last and final down. Of course, the Company's proposed contract was voted down 145-2 because there was not adequate information (concerning health care costs and coverage along with pension and manpower issues) for the members to make and informed decision.  Locking the workers out before giving them the information required is illegal. Since then, Celanese has engaged in regressive bargaining (another Labor Board charge) by presenting proposals that slash manpower by half, and wages by 33%.

Celanese obviously wants to avoid having these charges filed against them. If the Labor Board rules the lockout illegal, Celanese would have to pay all of the locked out employees back pay to the tune of 2.7 million dollars total and return them to work under their old contract until a new one was negotiated. Celanese, of course, has many other options if the decision does not go their way, including appealing the decision. It goes without saying that 484 needs the Labor Board to make the fair and just ruling they intended to make before allowing the Company an extra week to plead their case.

I hope this helps answer some of your questions. If you have more, I would be glad to get the answers from my husband for you.


Melissa Street, IBB L-484 Hall Secretary

From Local 484 message board, November 11, 2005

I think it's about time we get serious people not showing up for shifts,seems like no one care. Have you all given up and going to let the scabs take or are you going to stand up and fight for your job. Stay home and draw your cozy unemployment checks while some of us are out there trying. The co. still playing there games how about we play some.