Strikers ratify four-year contract with Schnitzer’s Cascade Steel


Ten weeks after ending their strike, members of United Steelworkers Local 8378 ratified a new four-year labor agreement at at Cascade Steel Rolling Mills, a subsidiary of Portland-based Schnitzer Steel Industries.

The steel mill’s roughly 300 workers will get annual raises of 2, 2, 2.5, and 2.5 percent under the new contract. Before the strike, the company was offering 0.5 percent annual raises. By the end of the agreement, hourly wages will range from $20.54 to $32.47 depending on classification — up from the current range of $19.17 to $30.30. The agreement’s start date is April 1, 2012, when the previous contract expired, but pay increases are not retroactive.

The new contract also increases the company match to workers’ 401(k) retirement plan by 1 percent in the final year.

But workers’ share of health insurance premiums will also increase — to 13, 12, and 10 percent, respectively, for plans that workers currently pay 10, 5, and 0 percent of.

Cascade Steel, in McMinnville, Oregon, melts scrap metal from Schnitzer’s recycling business to make re-bar, wire, and other products.

Workers walked out April 8 to protest bad faith bargaining, and stayed out for 12 days, shutting down the mill.

USW staff representative Ron Rodgers said the new contract goes a long way toward rebuilding the relationship with the employer.

As part of the settlement — which workers approved June 29 — the union dropped two unfair labor practice charges it had filed with the National Labor Relations Board alleging labor law violations — including repudiating the contract and failure to bargain in good faith.

But a third charge is still being investigated — that the company trampled workers right to strike “by authorizing, participating in or ratifying … vehicular attacks or threats on picketers.” The charge stems from two incidents in which picketing strikers were struck by vehicles entering or leaving company property. Melt shop worker Lee Frakes was injured when he was bumped by a car driven by a security guard, and fellow striker Kurt Kirkpatrick was struck by a truck leaving the mill. Both received medical treatment and physical therapy and are back on the job.


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