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.”