Pictured Above: The Local 123 Negotiating Committee. Left to Right: Kenny Bowyer, Jess Sims (front), Tim McCambridge, Kenny Colvin, and Wes Henshaw.
At the beginning of negotiations with UE Local 123 this spring, the new plant manager at Daikin Industries — who had never negotiated with UE before — presented the union with proposals that would have completely rewritten and gutted the contract’s provisions on seniority, hours of work and overtime.
The members were having none of it. “I took [the company proposal] and sent it to the floor, and they went hog wild with it,” reported Local 123 President Wes Henshaw. The members organized marches through the plant on their breaks, chanting and demonstrating their displeasure with the company’s proposals. “It got the point across to the company of where the people stood on things,” said Henshaw. The marches generated panicked calls from supervisors in the plant to the management team at the bargaining table — and management moved off their contract-gutting proposals and agreed to solid improvements.
The new five-year contract, ratified by the members of Local 123 late last month, provides for annual wage increases of 2, 2.25, 2.5, 2.75 and 3 percent. Workers also each received a $600 gift card upon contract ratification. The new contract also upgrades some of the classifications in the pay scale, some of them by two or three job grades, and ensures that no one loses pay due to job combinations.