United Steelworkers (USW) ended its strike at Cascade Steel Rolling Mills April 20, but there’s still no agreement on a new union contract.
About 300 members of USW Local 8378 took part in the strike, which lasted 12 days. The mill was shut down when workers walked of the job, and remained out of operation during the strike. Cascade, located in McMinnville, Oregon, is a subsidiary of Portland-based Schnitzer Steel Industries.
USW national spokesperson Tony Montana said returning to work was a strategic decision based on the potential consequences to members of remaining on strike.
After talking with lawyers for the national union, the bargaining committee made an unconditional offer to return to work at 11:30 a.m. Friday, April 20. But Cascade told most employees not to come back to work until the following Monday, and the company waited until then to restart the mill. As a result, 20 to 50 workers may lose their family health insurance coverage for the month of May, because they will not have worked the required minimum 84 hours in April.
The two sides’ most recent labor agreement expired April 1. Officially, the strike was in protest of alleged labor law violations, including a refusal by the company to bargain in good faith. The National Labor Relations Board is still investigating the violations. In the meantime, USW says some progress has been made in contract talks.
The two sides met April 25, and will next meet on May 7 at the Portland offices of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service.
The strike’s end came three days after Local 8378’s internal union officer election, in which two-term incumbent president Joe Munger lost to challenger Ed Rush; the tally was 108 to 130. Munger’s term ends May 15, at which point he plans to return to his job as a crane operator at the mill. Munger said he expects to remain active in the union, as well as the Marion, Polk, Yamhill Central Labor Council and the Oregon AFL-CIO. In other results, Robert Smith outpolled incumbent Monte Hansen to win election as vice president; Joe Ybarguen was elected recording secretary; Jim Blue, financial secretary; and Scott Henning, treasurer. The five top officers make up the local’s Executive Board. All terms of office are three years. Of the local’s elected offices, president is the only
full-time paid position. [CORRECTION: The position is not full-time.]
USW is planning a rally at the company’s Portland headquarters on May 11 at 10 a.m. [UPDATE 5/10/12: USW opted not to go forward with the rally.]