USW Local Resolves Solvay Blue Island Contract, Chicago Heights Talks on Hold

Local 7-209-09 members at Solvay’s Blue Island, Ill., plant negotiated a three-year agreement with wage and benefit increases right before the Covid-19 pandemic hit the U.S. hard.

Solvay froze salaries on Jan. 1, 2020, but that did not affect union negotiations. Local 7-209-09 members ratified the agreement on March 13, 2020. The contract began April 1, 2020 and ends March 31, 2023.

Production, maintenance, shipping and receiving workers received a one-time signing bonus of $900, and yearly wage increases of 2.5 percent the first year, 2.75 percent the second year and 2.75 percent the third year. The bonus paid for perfect attendance increased as well.

The contract contains improvements in holiday pay, vacation time, overtime language and the reimbursement for the shoe allowance. Workers can roll over up to 40 hours of vacation time to the following year. The local negotiated an increase in the time—from 60 to 120 days—for workers to prove they can perform their new job if they are promoted or transferred to a new position.

The local added an accident and sickness plan for non-work-related illnesses or injuries, and workers can now take sick leave in four-hour increments.

The Blue Island site creates chemicals that go into soaps, shampoos and other sanitizing products. Local 7-765’s bargaining at Solvay’s Chicago Heights, Ill., plant is still on hold because of the Covid-19 pandemic, however.

District 7 Staff Representative Frank Shubert said the parties are not currently meeting face-to-face due to the pandemic. He said the local anticipates returning to the table this fall, provided there is containment and reduction in the spread of the coronavirus.

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