Published 12:00 am Friday, October 15, 1999
By BRIAN BLACKLEY
Published Oct. 15, 1999
Contract negotiations that are allegedly going poorly have sparked fears of Sikorski Support Services, Inc. personnel that a strike may be looming at the Troy plant when the clock strikes midnight Sunday.
Representatives from Teamsters Local 1150 Union said the strike could be avoided if certain conditions are met, but that the prognosis is not good at this point. SSSI employs about 150 people and has 110 employees who belong to the union.
"There’s some room for negotiation, but we are not optimistic," said Gene Moriarty, a representative of the union based in Conneticut. "We are willing to work with the company to reach a settlement on this."
A federal mediator has been called in to help settle the dispute, and was scheduled to arrive last night around 8 p.m.
"We hope that having a disinterested third party come in and take a look at the issues will help us all see what the real issues are," Moriarity said. "Sometimes it helps to have someone from outside isolate the small differences so we can work on resolving the larger ones."
The key issues that Moriarity and employess of SSSI have targeted center on proposed raises in next year’s contracts coupled with pay equalization and automatic progression.
Moriarity said pay equalization is the process of bringing employees with seniority up to minimum pay levels. As it stands, he said, employees can hire in at rates higher than those of some long-term employees.
Though Tim Baker, a 15-year SSSI employee who works as a production scheduler, is not disappointed with his rate of pay, he said he will strike with the others if the company doesn’t meet minimum demands.
"My real concern is pay equalization," Baker said. "I know people who have been around a long time who aren’t getting what they should. I like what I do and have no complaints, but I see where they are coming from and I support this effort."
Baker said some headway has been made in the negotiations, which included problems over insurance in the beginning.
"We were concerned that they were going to switch companies on us, and we liked what we had," Baker said. "We seem to have reached a tentative agreement on that."
Baker said he will help man the picket line if a strike occurs.
"I don’t want to chop off the arm that feeds me," he said. "My goal in this is to help others."
Moriarity said he expects SSSI will put a proposal on the table well in advance of the midnight deadline.
"They have said they will get something together well before that time, but they have a long way to come to meet our conditions," Moriarity said. "There’s room for negotiation, but we are not optimistic at this point."
Baker said bringing a peaceful resolution to the dispute is important to him, but he also fears for the worst.
"If they don’t change, it’s likely we will come to a strike count," he said. "That’s not what we want, but it may come to that."