Evonik Deer Park, Texas, Workers Negotiate Contract Improvements

It took only a week for the USW Local 13-1-10 Evonik unit in Deer Park, Texas, to negotiate a four-year agreement that raised wages, increased benefits and returned contracted work to the bargaining unit.      

“We have a good relationship with management,” said Unit President LaDerrell Dangerfield. “There were some tough times, but it worked out.”

Pictured: LaDerrell Dangerfield, Joe Day, Noel Trevino, Gary Harrison, missing Rodrick Frazier.

He said the previous contract expired June 3, 2019, but the company approached the union about settling negotiations early.

About 23 maintenance, production and lab workers are in the bargaining unit, and they ratified a new agreement on April 12. The Deer Park site produces oil additives that help keep the oil atoms apart, Dangerfield said.

Wages increase 2.5 percent the first year, 2.75 percent the second year, and 3 percent the third and fourth years. After the 2.5 percent wage increase in 2019, top hourly pay was $33.49 in the lab; $40.20 for an outside operator and the mechanical section, and $43.53 for a control man and relief operator.

Dangerfield said that under the new contract, a worker can also advance to the top pay rate in his or her classification sooner than was possible under the previous agreement.

Bringing Back Work

Local 13-1-10 negotiated a new position, utility operator, to handle drumming—the process of placing product into drums—that used to be contracted out. Pay starts at $24.30 an hour and increases to $27 an hour when the employee qualifies for the position.

Evonik negotiators wanted employees in the control man and two outside operator positions to qualify for all three jobs to get top pay, but the union succeeded in grandfathering the existing workers. Dangerfield said that new hires will have to qualify for three jobs to get top pay, but that it gives “the young guys opportunities” to advance. He warned other Evonik sites that they may come across this proposal.

The yearly performance bonus program continues, and employees have the opportunity to receive up to an 8 percent bonus if key performance indicators and personal goals are met, Dangerfield said. Evonik’s 2018 performance resulted in a 6 percent bonus, worth thousands of dollars for employees.

Dangerfield said Evonik’s CEO wanted all employees under the company’s retirement plan by 2025, so the local negotiated for the eight older workers who were still under the previous company’s pension plan (Rohm & Haas) to be grandfathered in. They will move to the Evonik 401(k) plan in 2025, and the company will deposit 9 percent of their gross pay into the new plan. Dangerfield said the change will result in more retirement money for the older workers.

Gaining Vacation Time

He said the local gained vacation time in exchange for the loss of two holidays. New hires get 98 hours of vacation; previously, they had to work a year before getting vacation time. Those with seven to nine years of seniority saw their vacation time increase from 120 hours to 192 hours; this was a real improvement for them, Dangerfield said.

Another change involves selling back to the company 80 hours of vacation time at the end of the year if a worker has used a certain amount of hours.

“This is good for those who might want extra money to buy Christmas gifts or need funds for a major repair,” Dangerfield said.

Local 13-1-10 negotiators improved company anniversary benefits by increasing the amount of money to one month’s pay for those with 25 and 40 years of service.       

Mobilizing the Membership

Dangerfield said the local distributed a survey to the membership before negotiations and had a meeting for members to say what they wanted in a new contract.

“We’re all pretty close knit and keep in communication with each other,” he said. “I think, all in all, it is a pretty decent deal. Our staff representative, Ben Lilienfeld, and bargaining committee members Joe Day, Noel Trevino, Gary Harrison and Rodrick Frazier worked hard to get the best contract possible for our members.”

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