The United Steelworkers Local 1133 in Canton, Ohio, rejected a contract with Timken Co. that company officials said guaranteed a $225 million expansion at the Faircrest steel mill, the Cleveland Plain Dealer
Workers rejected the tentative contract, reached last month, by a vote of 917-608. The new contract, which was to run through 2017, would have offered accelerated pay increases and signing bonuses. The union’s contract with Timken doesn’t officially expire until next year, but the rejection could put the expansion in jeopardy, company officials said Monday.
“Many parts of this company are growing and expanding around the world,” Timken Steel Business President Salvatore J. Miraglia said. “We are disappointed in this outcome because the contract was a necessary step before our commitment to invest $225 million in steel operations in Canton.
Ohio has already offered Timken $19.5 million in tax breaks to help pay for the project. In return, the steelmaker agreed to keep employment steady for at least 18 years. The expansion wasn’t expected to bring many new jobs, but would have offered more job security to the current workers.
However, local President Joe Hoagland told the Plain Dealer union workers were upset by the tentative contract. In 2009, he said, the steelworkers allowed Timken to offer lower pensions and healthcare benefits for new workers.
"Our membership, one of their bigger things was to bring those people up to pre-2009 levels. We weren't able to obtain that," Hoagland said.
The tentative contract offered workers less time to take an early retirement offer, while the 2009 pact gave workers until the end of next year to retire, with extra payments. Hoagland said the rejected deal would have forced workers to retire by the end of this June to get the special payments.
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