Wage Increases Highlight Reopeners in Several Great Lakes Contracts


May 2013


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The first quarter of the year proved busy and productive for Great Lakes-area Seafarers and union officials who negotiated several reopeners covering wages and benefits. Reopener agreements were reached with Erie Sand and Gravel; Champion Auto Ferry; Upper Lakes Towing; and VanEnkevort Tug and Barge.


Following are summaries of the negotiations:


Erie Sand and Gravel

The SIU secured wage and vacation pay increases effective April 1, 2013 and again on April 1, 2014. The union also ensured that health benefits are maintained.


SIU Vice President Great Lakes Tom Orzechowski and SIU Algonac Port Agent Todd Brdak negotiated on behalf of the SIU.


The company, based in Erie, Pa., operates the sand-sucking dredge MV St. John on Lake Erie.


Champion Auto Ferry

The union negotiated a wage increase effective in the first pay period of April 2013. Brdak, SIU Representative Don Thornton and Pilots Ed Hotchkiss and Paul McGeachy bargained on behalf of the union.


The company is based in Algonac and operates three auto ferries between there and Harsens Island, Mich.


Upper Lakes Towing

Both for licensed and unlicensed Seafarers, the union obtained annual wage increases for the remaining term of the contract, which runs through March 2019. The SIU also secured increases in vacation benefits this year and in 2015 and 2017, and maintained contributions to the Seafarers Money Purchase Pension Plan (SMPPP) and the union-affiliated Paul Hall Center for Maritime Training and Education. Additionally, health benefits will be maintained.


Orzechowski and Brdak negotiated for the SIU.


The company is based in Escanaba, Mich., and operates the articulated tug-barge (ATB) Joseph H. Thompson Jr.


VanEnkevort Tug and Barge

Annual wage increases were secured for the remainder of the contract, which expires at the end of March 2019. The union also negotiated for increased vacation benefits this year and in 2015 and 2017, plus maintained contributions to the SIU-affiliated Paul Hall Center for Maritime Training and Education. Health benefits and contributions to the SMPPP also will be maintained.


Handling negotiations for the SIU were Orzechowski and Brdak.


The company, based in Escanaba, operates the ATB Joyce L. VanEnkevort/Great Lakes Trader on the Great Lakes.


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