3M Council Plots Strategy at Quarterly Meeting as Company Announces Freezes to Nonunion Pensions

Members of the USW 3M Council began their Jan. 25 meeting mapping out a strategy for combating the chemical company’s attempts to change the pension structure they believe may be coming given a recent announcement regarding nonunion workers. 

3M announced in early January that it will freeze U.S. pension plans for nonunion employees, effective Dec. 31, 2028.

 USW International Secretary-Treasurer John Shinn, who oversees bargaining in the chemical sector, said that the situation starkly illustrates the benefits of forming a union and collectively bargaining a contract, namely that that management cannot unilaterally alter or eliminate benefits for USW members.

“We expect that 3M will likely try making changes to our members’ pensions in future negotiations, and we are going to have to be organized and have a well-planned campaign,” said Shinn.

Facing Down Other Changes

The group also addressed strategy around other proposed changes.

Members at multiple 3M locations are dealing with the company’s attempts to alter contractual overtime premium payments, with USW now hiring attorneys to handle arbitration at Cottage Grove. The changes primarily impact anyone who works a rotating shift or 12-hour shifts.

“We’re going to tell the company they can’t just jam changes down our throat,” said Shinn. “They have to work with us.”

Meanwhile, at the Tonawanda facility in New York, contract negotiations were nearing completion when 3M handed over a 150-page benefits book that included massive changes. At the time of the council meeting, the bargaining committee was hard at work reviewing the book and submitting their comments. 

The Tonawanda team is also hoping to make headway on a health and safety proposal as part of the union’s sector-wide plan to improve conditions at all USW-represented chemical facilities.

The 3M Council plans to meet in-person this April. Stay tuned for announcements regarding a date and location.

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