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Entries in Arbitration (1)

Friday
Mar012013

Complete Update on the Current MWA Situation

Here is the latest on the current situation involving the MWA, the arbitration, and the members working for MWA contractors.

Right now

As we all know, the arbitrator decided that she can not rule on issues regarding benefits and also awarded the MWA $8,000,000 for past wages paid compared to the Gilbert wage package. So as it stands right now, the District Council owes the MWA $8,000,000, and the MWA owes the Benefit Funds for all the hours worked. Also the original decision regarding wages stands. The MWA can pay it's shop workers the lower Gilbert pay rate, but most shops will not lower wages because they know most skilled craftsman will not work for $21 per hour (as opposed to $31). Tobin and Bauerschmidt are the only known shops that have lowered their wages (to approx. $28 per hour).

What's next?

The MWA has been in talks with the District Council on hammering out a new MWA Agreement in addition to settling all other issues. The MWA can still take the DC to arbitration again if they want, this time over the benefits. This could result in a ruling against the DC upwards of approx. $30,000,000 in addition to what has already been awarded if they decide to go that route. However, the MWA is interested in signing a new agreement, and in return agree not to bring up arbitration again towards the DC. This proposed global settlement will resolve everything, and the MWA and DC can move forward.

What type of agreement are we talking?

The DC have preliminarily negotiated a successor ten-year collective bargaining agreement that both sides are at least satisfactory with. In addition to the aforementioned 10 year length of this contract, the MWA wants a tiered pay system. New employees of the shops will be paid the Gilbert pay and benefit package. The specifics of this tiered system and rules for grandfathering previous members who work in the shops has not been worked out yet. Besides the tiered system, this agreement would essentially be the previous MWA agreement from before the arbitration started. This agreement will also incorporate raises with a wage reopening at the 3rd and 7th year. It is worth noting that the reopening would incorporate "interest arbitration", if both parties can't agree on a raise it would go to arbitration. As you would assume, the “Most Favored Nations Clause” would be removed from this new agreement as well.

Which tier will I be in?

The specifics of this system are not final. It is the hope that all members working in shops right now will continue to receive the same wages and benefits they have become accustom to receiving for their hard work. However nothing is final yet, so more details on this will follow.

How does this affect installers?

Quite frankly, it doesn’t. This new MWA agreement only covers shop workers. Woodwork installers who do not work in shops fall under the Wall & Ceiling Assoc. Agreement and should be paid as such. However it should be noted that installers are currently affected by the MWA shops being behind on benefits which is explained in the next paragraph. The hope is that once this is all settled, the installers, along with the shop workers can all be made whole on their benefits and go back to normal with regard to pay and benefits.

So now what about my benefits?

Firstly, as a result of the final arbitration decision no one is going into The Hollow Metal Fund. Everyone’s benefits remain the same as before, now as far as owed benefits go: There are two time periods of benefits most working members are owed from MWA shops. The period before the initial arbitration decision, and the period after. Before the initial arbitration decision, most MWA shops were behind on benefits to begin with. They were on payment plans. After the initial decision, MWA shops stopped paying into the payment plans, and started paying the Gilbert benefit rate for future hours. To be clear, they did not start paying into the Hollow Metal Fund like Gilbert Display workers are part of. They continued to pay benefits to the big fund, they just paid less per hour. The Benefit Fund regarded this as a delinquency, till the point where the Employer Trustees decided to take all the short payments from MWA shops and put it to the side until the arbitration was completely settled. As a result, members who were filling out stamp shortage forms are no longer credited medical hours in lieu of contractor payment. So what you have is a situation where working members are owed benefit hours and a Benefit Fund that will not credit the members any hours.

So what you're telling me is I'm SOL & JWF?

Yes and no. The MWA has preliminarily agreed to pay all the inside & outside benefit hours they owe from before the initial arbitration (approx. $2-3 million) from the $8 million they will be receiving from the DC. However, they will not pay the deficit owed (approx. another $2-3 million) on inside & outside hours after the initial arbitration.

So who is paying?

Now you have found what is holding everything up. In January, roughly 30 members have already lost medical benefits despite working more than 250 hours per quarter. By April 1st even more working members will lose medical benefits for no fault of their own. The hope is that the Employer Trustees of the Benefit Fund will decide to either "forgive" the MWA of the post arbitration deficit owed or greatly reduce that amount. The Employer Trustees have not made any decision on this and time is in short supply with the April 1st deadline looming. Other options have been discussed, such as the DC paying the Benefit Funds for the hours owed but nothing has been decided yet.

When will a decision be announced?

Besides www.Local2790.org, the best place to find out what’s going on is at Delegate Meetings. There are two more Delegate Meetings before the deadline. March 13th & 27th @ 5pm. The meetings are held at the Labor Technical College 2nd Floor Common Room @ 395 Hudson Street (Clarkson Street Entrance). All members of all Locals are welcome to attend and spectate delegate meetings. Here you can find out the latest info on this situation and also speak with other delegates (before and after the meeting only) about your concerns. When a new MWA agreement is created, it will have to be ratified by the 100 member delegate body before it can be implemented.