Local 12934 Extends Contract, Approves Dow Benefit Program

Members of Local 12934 on March 17 approved a contract extension, which included a Letter of Understanding covering the Dow Midland East Side complex.

The local, whose contract was originally set to expire in March 2024, began bargaining March 7 and reached a tentative agreement March 11. The new deal includes across-the-board wage increases and a $1,000 ratification bonus.

Local 12934 President Mike Orvosh said that the local agreed to engage in mid-term bargaining because the negotiations committee felt it could leverage Dow’s desire to include the membership in the company’s Total Rewards program to achieve other gains.

In addition to the general wage raises, the local also negotiated a two-year, wage rate extension for 78 workers, reduced the time disciplinary documentation is in a worker’s file, secured 20 more jobs that Dow cannot contract out, and guaranteed the company will post at least 10 positions for the maintenance trainee program. The local further retained the right to bargain over benefit changes. 

The program, which offers benefits like paid parental leave, paid leave to care for sick family members and discounts on health care premiums for workers earning less than $75,000 per year, also meant freezing the defined benefit pension plan, effective Dec. 31, 2023.

A number of other USW locals at Dow sites already accepted the Total Rewards program including Local 12075 at the Midland West Side Complex, Local 88G at Bristol, Pa., and Local 7-507-11 at Elk Grove Village, Ill.

“This was a significant challenge for us,” said Orvosh, “so we decided to get to the table and bring back the best deal for the members.” 

With acceptance of Dow’s Total Rewards program, Local 12934 members who have a 401k plan, will receive an increased company match, and the company will give a retroactive match to the beginning of 2022. In addition, Dow will automatically make a non-elective contribution to workers’ savings plan accounts every year and calculate the contribution on base pay, overtime and performance awards. This is a significant increase for some members, Orvosh said.

The local negotiated a yearly $3,000 harmonization bonus through 2024 for those who currently have a heritage Dow Corning plan, which is a defined benefit pension plan. Workers who have a Personal Pension Account (PPA) received a one-time harmonization bonus of $1,000.  

“No way did we feel the contract comes close to making up the freezing of the defined benefit pension, but we believe it was absolutely the best deal we could get for the members,” Orvoshsaid.

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