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No contract yet for Nichols, union

No contract yet for Nichols, union

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After another round of contract talks, Nichols Aluminum and Teamsters Local 371 have yet to reach an agreement, the two sides said Wednesday.

Union president Howard Spoon said the union and company returned to the table Monday and had planned to return today, but the session has been postponed.

Spoon said the union still has charges pending against the company before the National Labor Relations Board. “We’re still trying to resolve everything with the company. The company believes we’re at an impasse, but the union does not agree,” he said.

Company president Tom Brackmann would not discuss how negotiations are going but did agree that the company believes talks are at an impasse. “We’re willing to go back to the table when there is something to talk about, but at this time we have not set a date,” he said.

The union staged a nearly 12-week strike this year, walking off the job in late January when contract talks stalled. In mid-April, the union ended the strike and more than half of the union employees were called back to work.

“We did agree to get a few more people back to work to fill some vacancies that they were not filling,” Spoon said. He estimated that between 60 and 65 percent of the union workers have returned to their jobs.

Brackmann said the workers called back are on “a preferential hiring list” that Nichols has been calling from when it has openings.

During the strike, the company hired replacement workers to keep production going and offered them full-time status before the strike ended.

According to Spoon, most of the employees who have not yet returned “are waiting to get called back.” But a few have moved on to local employers, including Deere & Co. and Alcoa Davenport Works.

“I don’t blame Alcoa and Deere for picking up some of these folks,’’ he said, adding that many of the workers bring years of experience on the assembly line, in maintenance and working with molten metals. “I knew I’d lose some folks, but I only have lost a handful.”

Workers waiting for a callback are considered on a recall list and are receiving unemployment benefits. “We won the argument to get them unemployment with the unemployment office,” he added.

The Teamsters union represents about 254 Nichols employees, including 220 union workers. The union has worked without a contract since Nov. 15.

Spoon said the company and union could return to the table sometime next week.



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