November 10, 2016
By Steven Wishnia and Neal Tepel
Waterford, NY – Striking workers at the Momentive Performance Materials chemical plant here north of Albany reacted angrily Nov. 4 to a new contract proposal that would cut off retirees’ health care in January. “Garbage,” said chemical operator Tom Butler.
“A joke,” said Jessica Moore. “Having no health benefits in it for our retirees is reason enough for us to strike. We have to stay strong.” The plant’s more than 700 union workers are scheduled to vote Nov. 6-7 on the proposal, which IUE-CWA Local 81359 President Dom Patrignani said contained more concessions than the one union members overwhelmingly rejected in September. “We don’t think this is a good contract,” Local 81359 vice-president Darryl Houschower said. “But we think the membership should have a chance to vote on it.” The proposal would freeze wages for a year and charge workers more for health care than the September offer would have, as well as ending retirees’ health-care benefits a year sooner. “If they want to change it for current, active employees’ future retiree benefits, then fine… go ahead,” John Phelps, head of Local 81359’s retirees’ division, told the Albany Times-Union in an e-mail. But don’t touch what was already agreed to in a legally binding previous contract we retired under!” Read more