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Arandell Union Workers Stage Solidarity March

Union employees want to see their wages brought back in their new contract after taking a 21 percent cut in 2010.

Arandell Corp. union employees on Wednesday staged a solidarity march outside the company to demonstrate their unity as contract negotiations continue with the company.

Roughly 60 second-shift union workers from Arandell marched along Leon Road before their workday began to show unity as union representatives continue to bargain for a new contract with the company. They were joined by their first-shift counterparts later in the afternoon as they finished their shift.

Union workers are hoping to have their pay increased after taking deep wage cuts in April 2010.

Frustration has been mounting with the members of Local 577M of the Graphic Communications Conference, which is an offshoot of Teamsters and represents nearly 600 workers at Arandell. Last year, the company cut wages by 21 percent for all employees after the negotiations with the union reached an impasse.

The contract with the union expired March 31, and negotiations have been ongoing since April.

“We’re in the middle of contract negotiations and people are getting a little frustrated and they wanted to show unity with one another, and show the company that we stand together,” said Local 577M Vice President Perry Kettner. “These people took wage cuts over a year ago and they’re hurting.”

The printing industry has been one of the hardest hit with the economic downturn, and print volumes have decreased nearly 25 percent forcing layoffs and plant closures industry wide, said Arandell Vice President of Human Resources Kuhnmuench.

The wage decrease imposed in 2010 helped reduce costs for the company and avoid layoffs.

“Right now, we are working to reach an agreement with the union that will continue to save jobs and position the company for growth and success in the years to come,” Kuhnmuench said. “The simple fact is that the company is offering competitive wages and benefits that enabled it to hire 120 new workers in the last month alone.”

Kuhnmuench added that even with the cuts to pay, union workers’ wages continue to be more than competitive in the printing industry both in Wisconsin and nationally.

Christine Davis has been an employee at Arandell for 15 years, and said she’s had to work longer shifts and overtime to make up for the reduction in her pay. She was marching with other workers Wednesday.

“The cost of living just keeps going up, but my pay keeps going down,” Davis said.

Kettner said workers have been putting in their fair share to deserve a wage increase, during the busiest time of the year for Arandell.

“This is the busy season for the company, and we feel it’s time to strike the deal,” Kettner said. “We’ve been working a lot of overtime and long hours and we feel it’s time to get something back.”

Dan August 26, 2011 at 04:38 PM
I'm sure them being on strike does not do much to hurt the company either. There just hurting themselves, I'm sure the company is just bidding out the jobs to other printers. So the work is still getting done. Just a bit of advise.
NoSpinJustFacts August 27, 2011 at 03:39 PM
Dan, thanks for the advice! However, even though you see tons of work from Arandell, we still are VERY busy with all the overtime we can muster. So, that's good for you and good for us. Color Ink's business will increase even more if management decides the bindery workers and press employees aren't worth consideration for restoration. It is what it is, and life will go on!
keith hoops August 30, 2011 at 01:39 AM
anonymous is totally wrong a contract establishes wage minimums that must be paid the company can pay anyone more than the prevailing wage scale.
Craig August 30, 2011 at 02:57 AM
Not totally wrong. The contract usually specifies a wage range -as in min/ max. If an employee is paid above that range, there would be grievances filed. The only way to pay above the specified range would be to give the employee a higher labor grade. Then there would be a grievance filed if he was doing the same job with a higher grade.
K.S. ;) September 30, 2012 at 11:22 AM
As a former employee and union steward,my advice to the people working there is quit backing down and take back what this company has "stolen" from all of you.You all know what this company makes annually,its no big secret. If "upper" management doesn't know how to run it or control their spending,its not the union workers fault.And as far as the "office" people go,you let the company take what they wanted,don't blame the union or its workers for your lack of solidarity. The people who are in the trenches,so to speak,took a WAY bigger hit than you will ever know. And one more thing,for these bigmouthed people who like to say be glad you got a job or go work at McDonalds,how about you take a $4 paycut and go work their yourself and try to support a family. Its real easy to sit in a chair in an office with nothing better to do than try to bring these people down WHILE eating McDonalds. Employees of the union,stick to your guns and stick together. You all deserve to get back what you lost. SOLIDARITY!!

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