Lakes Contracts Include Numerous Gains

June 2010

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The union recently wrapped up negotiations with three different companies in the Great Lakes region, and in each case, the agreements call for wage increases and
other gains.

According to SIU Vice President Contracts George Tricker, a long-term contract has been completed with KK Integrated Shipping LLC, based in Menominee, Mich. Seafarers sail aboard two integrated tug-barge units operated by the company. The contract includes wage increases in each of its first eight years, followed by a wage reopener. It also features vacation benefits along with Paul Hall Center benefits for training and upgrading. Finally, it includes health care coverage and a 401(k) plan.

Meanwhile, a new five-year contract is in place at Luedtke Engineering, located in Frankfort, Mich. The pact stipulates yearly wage increases while maintaining Seafarers Health and Benefits Plan coverage at the “CorePlus” level, the highest available. Additionally, the contract calls for company contributions to the Seafarers Money Purchase Pension Plan and maintains pension benefits. It offers members the opportunity to participate in the Seafarers 401(k) Plan and also includes Paul Hall Center benefits for training and upgrading.

The third agreement covers employees at Champion Auto Ferry, based in Algonac, Mich. This four-year pact calls for a wage increase and includes a wage reopener. It also maintains medical and pension benefits.

For both the KK Integrated Shipping and Champion contract negotiations, the union was represented by SIU Vice President Great Lakes Tom Orzechowski, Algonac Port Agent Todd Brdak and Algonac Representative Don Thornton. For the Luedtke talks, the union was represented by those same three individuals along with Joliet Port Agent Chad Partridge and Algonac Safety Director Monte Burgett.

Orzechowski credited not only the union’s negotiating teams but also the company representatives for hammering out good, fair agreements.

“As everyone knows, it’s very rare in this economy to be able to secure new contracts that boost wages while maintaining benefits,” he said. “These new agreements do just that, and I think they reflect well on the membership and on our contracted companies.”

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