2/9/08

Strikes end as union members vote to decertify

Long-running strikes against Detroit-based Edward C. Levy Co. at Burns Harbor and East Chicago have technically come to an end, but the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150, AFL-CIO vows to continue to fight.

Employees of Levy Co. have voted overwhelmingly to decertify Local 150 at both its Burns Harbor and East Chicago plants, the company said Thursday. The National Labor Relations Board certified the results of both elections, legally ending Local 150's strike, which began in 2005.

John Guydan, vice president for Levy's steel mill services, said the outcome means the union has no legal basis to picket or boycott Levy at any of its three locations.

David Fagan, financial officer for Local 150 out of Merrillville, said the union has filed a motion of reconsideration with the NLRB based on new evidence within the last few days.

Fagan also said that it was no surprise that employees hired during a strike would vote not to have a union.

The dispute started in Burns Harbor in August 2005, five months after Levy's contract with the union expired. After workers walked off their jobs at U.S. Steel Gary Works and ArcelorMittal's East Chicago plants despite a no-strike clause in their collective bargaining agreement, Levy hired temporary workers to continue operating.

Eventually, the National Labor Relations Board said Levy could hire new workers at those sites. Those employees now make more than $20 an hour on average, according to the release.

Negotiations between Levy and Local 150 continued until March 2006. When no agreement could be reached, Levy converted the temporary workers to permanent replacement workers.

(post-trib.com)

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