Lockout at Local Plant Continues Over Retirement Negotiations

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Workers being hung out to dry by both their employers and their union bureaucrats: it’s business as usual.  However, we thought we’d highlight this particularly disgusting move by National Gypsum, located in Shoals, Indiana.  As  far as we’re aware, the lockout is now on it’s third week.

When asked if the other facilities could make up for the loss of product from the Shoals plant, Spurlock said, “Demand is very low now because of the housing recession.”

from Indiana Economic Digest

SHOALS — National Gypsum has locked workers out of its mine and plant in Martin County. At issue is the workers’ retirement package.

“We regret having to take this action, but we believe this is the next practical step towards reaching a contract agreement,” Greg Berry, plant manager, said in a prepared statement. “Our employees will return to work as soon as they can vote on a contract, and the contract is ratified. We believe our offer is fair and allows us to remain competitive and to continue to provide jobs and benefits to our associates for the long term. … We are looking forward to getting a contract approved by our associates and returning to normal operations in the near future.”

“Our members are standing up for the middle class,” said United Steel Worker District 7 Director Jim Robinson in a prepared statement. “This is not merely an issue for the shop floor today, but for future generations. They are unwilling to give away their children’s and grandchildren’s right to a secure retirement.”

Nancy Spurlock, a spokeswoman for National Gypsum, said the company and employees represented by the USW have not been able to agree on a retirement package.

The company’s offer splits employees by age.

Those age 40 and older would stay on the company’s traditional pension plan.

Those age 39 and younger would be put on a 401(k)-type plan.

In both cases, the company would contribute to the employee’s retirement package, she said. Employees would decide how to invest their 401(k) plans. Those plans also would be portable, meaning if an employee left the company, the money would go with him.

“All of our salaried employees have this plan,” she said, as do hourly workers at 33 of the company’s 36 locations.

Union officials said the membership at the local has been united in protecting the pension benefit plan.

“Replacing a defined benefit plan with a 401(k) plan with a non-binding employer match undermines an essential cornerstone of the middle class existence: the right to retire in dignity after delivering to an employer a career of loyal and productive work,” Robinson said.

National Gypsum is one of the largest gypsum wallboard producers in the United States. It operates 17 wallboard production plants and eight gypsum mines and quarries.

The Shoals plant and mine have been in production since 1956.

When asked if the other facilities could make up for the loss of product from the Shoals plant, Spurlock said, “Demand is very low now because of the housing recession.”

In all, 99 people work at the Shoals operation; 81 of them are union workers affected by the lockout, she said.

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