USW Members Persevere, Ratify Contract at Solvay Chicago Heights Plant

Local 7-765-01 members at Solvay’s Chicago Heights, Ill., plant ratified a four-year agreement on Aug.13, 2021, nearly 22 months past the original contract expiration date.

Talks dragged on as management dug in its heals, demanding concessions on “management rights,” and retroactive pay.

Unit President Kent Ferree said the local was finally able to get Solvay to compromise over these issues and reach an agreement by its “fortitude to continue the fight, application of internal and external pressure and willingness to accept nothing less.”

Solvay agreed to notify the union before changing an employee’s work schedule, assignments or duties within their classification, or before implementing any new or modified safety rule, regulation and other rules of conduct, which will give the union an opportunity to request bargaining.

The local also won retroactive wage increases from the beginning of the contract, Nov. 17, 2019, for all members. Wage increases for the first and second years are 2.5 percent, 2.875 percent for the third year and 3 percent for the fourth year.

Both parties agreed to a new written substance abuse policy, changes to the grievance procedure that allow more time for response at each step of the process, and the addition of grandchildren to funeral leave and bereavement pay.

The 26 members of Local 7-765-01 refine silica for multiple customers, including the tire manufacturing industry. They work in maintenance or as production operators, packagers, helpers and laboratory technicians.

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