Contract Addresses Key Economic Issues and Enhances Security
PITTSBURGH, Dec. 19, 2011 -- After two weeks of voting, the United Steelworkers (USW) today said that its members have ratified a four-year master economic and security agreement with International Paper (IP) that covers about 5,700 workers at 43 of the company's converter plants where they make corrugated boxes and containers.
The agreement was reached after nearly a year of planning and strategic meetings that culminated in mid-November with a week-long negotiating session with over 200 participants in New Orleans, La.
"These negotiations are strategically important for our union and our members in the converting sector of the paper industry," said USW International President Leo W. Gerard.
"A large percentage of our paper membership works in the converting sector and IP is the largest company," Gerard said, "so our success here sets a standard for bargaining and relationships throughout the industry."
USW International Vice President Jon Geenen, who leads the USW's paper industry bargaining efforts, said, "Our strong local union leadership and membership solidarity made the entire process successful, and allowed everyone to have a role in reaching an agreement with IP that benefits all parties and ensures a vibrant industry going forward."
"This agreement provides for solid wage increases for the workers in this industry who are affected the most by our current economic environment and contains a health care plan uniquely adapted to converter members," said USW Secretary Treasurer Stan Johnson, who chairs the IP Union Council.
"These achievements are a testament to the solidarity of our IP converter locals," he said. "Their active participation and voice made all of the difference in these negotiations."
The newly ratified labor agreement includes wage increases in each year, maintains and builds upon the health care offerings, and contains improvements in the 401k, life insurance, short-term disability and survivor benefits along with job security, safety and other enhancements.
The USW represents 850,000 workers in North America employed in many industries that include metals, rubber, chemicals, paper, oil refining and the service and public sectors, with some 100,000 employed in the paper and pulp. For more information: http://www.usw.org/.
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