Dresser-Rand strike boss outmaneuvered again

Dresser- Rand Co. Thursday declared an impasse in negotiations with Local 313 IUE CWA, imposed the terms of its latest contract offer and invited all union members to return to work immediately.

However, union officials Thursday night said the company told them the return to work wouldn't be immediate and that employees should wait to be contacted by the company before reporting.

"They (Dresser-Rand) have a process they have to go through now. They have to get rid of temporary employees first," said union President Steve Coates. "They have to go through a list of our employees and decide who they want. If they don't take us all back, we'll be filing a ULP (unfair labor practice). We'll be filing charges against the company for declaring an impasse as well. We felt that act was illegal. We don't believe we were at impasse. We wanted to continue to negotiate."

The company action follows a strike by 400 union members at Dresser-Rand's Painted Post plant. The work stoppage will reach its 17th week Saturday.

During the strike, Dresser-Rand said, the company hired more than 90 permanent replacement workers and 130 temporary replacement workers. It was not immediately clear how many of the 400 union members would be absorbed into the existing work force.

"It is anticipated that temporary employees will continue to be reduced by additional new hires, employees returning to work and increased subcontracting," Dresser-Rand said in a news release.

Not all the issues between the company and the union were resolved by Thursday's announcement. Local 313 filed several unfair labor practices charges against the company that have not been resolved by the National Labor Relations Board.

Dresser-Rand President Vincent R. Volpe Jr. said in a news release that the contract imposed Thursday contains "language governing operating policies ... consistent with contemporary standards." He said it also will bring benefits at Painted Post in line with those available to other Dresser-Rand employees in the U.S.

The union had rejected the company offer because of disagreements over work rules and proposed major increases in the cost of medical insurance. Union members walked off the job Aug. 4 when their three-year contract expired.

The union offered to go back to work under the terms of the expired contract on Nov. 19. Dresser-Rand rejected that offer four days later. The latest attempt at negotiations, on Monday and Tuesday, ended without an agreement.

Company officials could not be reached Thursday night to confirm that employees should wait to be called before returning to work. Dan Meisner, human relations manager at the factory, did not respond Thursday to repeated messages seeking comment.


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