Local 9-675-01 at 3M’s Guin, Ala., Plant Continues Union Tradition for 64 Years

Local 9-675-01 signed a new contract that increased wages and benefits, turned past practices into solid contract language and averted management concessions at 3M’s plant in Guin, Ala., after six months of negotiations.

First organized in 1956, the local continues to negotiate family-supporting wages, benefits and contract language that helps Guin and Marion County thrive.

Members overwhelmingly ratified a three-year agreement on April 24, 2020 that included wage increases of three percent the first year, two percent the second year and two percent the third year.

“The last week of negotiations there was a big argument over retroactive pay,” said Local 9-675-01 President Phillip Markham. “We had to really fight them over that, but they went back, went over everybody’s hours, and paid what they owed them.”

The local obtained increases in payments received for sickness and accident, long-term disability, and accidental death and dismemberment benefits. Changes in how retirement benefits are calculated will result in larger monthly retirement checks for workers. Union negotiators added step parents and step children to the bereavement leave.

Those who work in the Advanced Materials Division manufacturing glass bubbles—a lightweight filler material—will get 15 minutes of company time to take a shower after work.

Workers in the Maker department—producing reflective sheeting for the sides of trucks, and road and traffic signs—will get a $1,120 work clothing allowance for shirts and blue jeans when they join the department and $800/year thereafter.

The local maintained its health care and retirement plans.

Turned back concessions

Bargaining began Oct. 2, 2019 and lasted through the spring, an unusual turn, as until this contract, negotiations typically took no more than a week.

The local’s perseverance, however, paid off.

“We thought we did pretty good,” Markham said. “We were trying to keep a lot of what we had. The company was coming after a lot of things like a zipper clause, contracting out of janitorial work, four job cuts in the bubbles department and the introduction of temporary workers.”

In a zipper clause, if a past practice is not in writing after the contract is ratified or it is not in a memorandum of understanding, it is non-existent, said Local 9-675-01 Vice President Keith Bozeman.

He said the union committee went over its bargaining notes, emails and copies of notes from past bargaining years to remember every past practice and write them down. As a result, overtime rules are in the contract now.

“Our staff rep., Kevin Key, got the company to agree that everything we sign or agree to has to have the signatures of the local union president or vice president, the plant manager, human resources and the department manager,” Bozeman said. “When the company saw we were not implementing items that were not agreed to by everybody, they pulled away from the zipper clause, and Key was instrumental in that.”

Markham said the local saved the janitorial jobs from being contracted out and the four jobs in the bubbles department from being cut. The union also refused to allow the introduction of temporary workers.

“Everybody was united in the whole plant,” he said.

He said members wore t-shirts to show solidarity and union stickers during the days of negotiations. Due to COVID-19, bargaining was conducted via email.

Toward the end, he said the membership was getting antsy, but “we kept telling them we were going to get to the finish line.”

Contract improvements over time

Local 9-675-01 built a solid foundation of achievements before negotiations began for the current agreement.

In 2003, the local and 3M agreed to engage in the USW’s Triangle of Prevention (TOP) program, and the company agreed to pay for a full-time hourly worker to be the TOP representative for the site.

“That was a big change,” said Calvin Bozeman, the local’s first TOP representative. “That put a union person in the company’s daily meetings who could hear what was going on and give the union’s input.”

He said that TOP helped build the local and made it stronger by getting more people involved in health and safety.

In 2004, the union committee negotiated plantwide seniority; it replaced departmental seniority. The local also got contract language for reduced workweeks when business got slow. “Now, we go by seniority to ask people if they want to work three days a week and retain their benefits and service credit,” Keith Bozeman said.

Calvin said many changes to the vacation policy were negotiated over the years. When he hired in, it took three years to get one week of vacation. Now, people hired in get two weeks of vacation immediately. When the local negotiated half-day increments of vacation, the members thought no one would use them, Calvin said. “Today, everyone does.”

Last chance agreements used to be in effect indefinitely until the union committee bargained new language in the contract in 2013 that made them limited to 48 months, Keith said.

As the 3M Guin site has grown, so has the union membership. Today, the local represents around 210 production, warehouse and maintenance workers, and has 96 percent membership in a right-to-work-for-less state.

Press Inquiries

Media Contacts

Communications Director:
Jess Kamm at 412-562-2446

USW@WORK (USW magazine)
Editor R.J. Hufnagel

For industry specific inquiries,
Call USW Communications at 412-562-2442

Mailing Address

United Steelworkers
Communications Department
60 Blvd. of the Allies
Pittsburgh, PA 15222