Solvay Local Resolves Parental Leave Discrepancy

Local 14200’s persistence in resolving a discrepancy between corporate policy and site implementation is helping pave the way for other Solvay locals that may encounter similar problems.

Last February, a shift worker at the company’s Marietta, Ohio, plant approached the local about parental leave pay, saying that the company underpaid him.

Investigation of this issue revealed that the local human resources (HR) manager and the North American corporate office were unaware of the Jan. 1 changes in the company’s Solvay Cares benefit plan.

“This was good work by Local 14200 to get this issue corrected,” said USW Secretary-Treasurer John Shinn, who heads the union’s chemical sector. “Now that Solvay’s North American management understands the corporate policy, it should be easier to resolve any more pay issues regarding parental leave if they crop up at other sites.”

Local investigates contradiction

At issue was whether or not a 12-hour shift worker who averages more than 40 hours a week of pay will receive that same compensation during parental leave.

Local 14200 flagged the pay issue at the February-March 2021 labor-management meetings. The site HR director checked with Solvay’s North American corporate office and was told that all employees only receive 40 hours of pay.

That answer did not correspond with what the Solvay Cares administrator told former Local 14200 president and unit chair Dan Bieniek, or what is stated in Solvay’s corporate policy.

“The parental leave policy says that employees will not lose any base pay during maternity/parental/adoption leave, and that it would be treated like vacation pay,” Bieniek said. “Our 12-hour shift workers receive full base pay on holidays and vacation days at the Marietta site per our collective bargaining agreement.”

Seeing the contradiction, Bieniek requested help from Shinn, who contacted the company’s head of its North American HR operations and labor relations who ultimately confirmed that employees should get parental leave in the same fashion as vacation time for leave starting after Jan. 1.

While the Marietta worker who raised this issue will not receive additional pay because he started his leave before the policy was implemented, new parents moving forward will benefit from the clarity the local gained.

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