STATE OF THE UNION SEPTEMBER 2020
BENEFITS- The open enrollment period to make changes to your current medical benefits will run from October through November 2nd. Packets are presently being sent home to all of our Members. Completed forms can be placed in the open enrollment drop box which is set up in the roadway or you can mail the forms to the address on the packet. New this year is an emergency contact form. We encourage all of our Members to complete this form. If you are electing to opt out of coverage or are enrolling in a HSA or FSA those forms must be filled out every year. Any questions or concerns can be addressed by contacting Erin Lee (879-8557), Ree Little (879-8210) in HR or Michael Dobrzenski (879-0941) at the Union Office.
SAFETY-The Safety Team would like to thank our Membership for the continued dedication to the safety and health of each other as we roll through a year like we’ve never experienced. It’s been a difficult stretch to say the least. Please continue to wear a mask when you’re moving or cannot maintain social distancing, following this basic request will help reduce the risk of the Covid-19 virus spreading further within our workplace. We have the “Red Dot” cleaners on all shifts sanitizing common touch points but please remember to wash your hands frequently as well. Use the time allotted to clean your machine or break table. We would also ask that you continue to use the Near Miss Program for reporting hazards; it’s a proven system and following it helps drive a safer work environment for all of us here. Follow Lockout Tag out procedures, check for missing or compromised guarding and if you sustain an injury report it. Check your safeties on your machine; if they don’t function properly the issue must be addressed before running the equipment.-Daniel Dunlap
SURVEILLANCE-Please be aware that when you are out on workers compensation, disability, PFL, FMLA or NYS Paid Covid Sick Leave you must follow your restrictions as prescribed by the leave you are taking. Many Members have been surveilled over the past few months and we expect this practice to continue. If you are out of work for any of these reasons expect to be followed. As a reminder; if you are quarantined or Isolated, you are supposed to stay home and refrain from going out in public for any reason. If unsure about what is required of you when quarantined call the Medical Department at 879-8214.
RAPID RESPONSE- The USW is looking for volunteers to work the polls in the upcoming general election due to most poll workers being over the age of 60 and being the most susceptible to covid related illness. Don’t forget the upcoming elections will have consequences. The current administration appointed Peter Robb to head the NLRB. Peter Robb is a UNION BUSTING LAWYER. The NLRB was founded by FDR to protect worker’s rights. There have already been several rulings handed down weakening collective bargaining and organizing.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (O.S.H.A) has also had their numbers greatly reduced as a result of the current administration’s policies. OSHA currently has the lowest number of inspectors on record since 1975 and would take 165 years to inspect every workplace in the U.S. as presently staffed. As a result, the amount of workplace fatalities and injuries have seen a dramatic increase.-James Sheridan
BARGAINING UNIT WORK- Management should not be doing any Bargaining Unit work unless a complete canvass has been done and an emergency condition exists. The only exceptions are experimental work, demonstration in the normal course of training or extreme emergency.
THERMAL IMAGING CAMERAS- The Company is installing thermal imaging cameras at both the Union and Salary entrances to the building. When the monitors are brought on-line and in full use, there will be instructions on how to be properly scanned and what to do if your temperature is high.
Your USW Local 135L
Bargaining Board and Officers
2020 Paul Dobrzenski Scholarship Winners:
1. Kacie Waliszewski - daughter of Scott Waliszewski
2. Gabrielle Vasi - daughter of Joseph Vasi
State of The Union May 2020
USW TRADE CASE - The USW trade case is going forward for duties on tires from Thailand, Vietnam, Taiwan and South Korea. Unlike trade cases in the past, this case will impact the bottom line for our parent company Sumitomo Rubber LLC. This will expedite Sumitomo Rubbers decisions on how they will supply the North American market. This provides us as a Union and a workforce with a unique opportunity to quickly impact the decisions being made. Much of what will happen over the next year will depend on how we rise to the challenge that is laid before us. The tire mix in April and May was not conducive to meeting target in PCR but June will be better and July should be back to normal. We were where we needed to be (as far as production numbers are concerned) in January, February and March so we have proven as a workforce we are up to the challenge. The Union and Plant Manager met with the Chief Stewards and Executive Board and went over what we can do and what the future may look like for the plant. It was an in-depth and productive discussion and we urged all of them to share what they learned with the Union Membership.
MEDICAL CO-PAYS - Some Members had the wrong amount of co-premium deducted from their checks upon returning from layoff. If you need an adjustment contact Ree in HR at 716-879-8210.
SAFETY- Welcome back from our three-week hiatus, we hope everyone was able to take a “deep breath” and relax a little bit. We still urge everyone to listen to the experts when it comes to the spread of Covid-19. Recognize the symptoms of the virus and if you feel unwell take the proper precautions. Please understand that this is affecting members in many ways and people’s reactions are going to differ from one individual to the next. Compassion and respect are essential for all of us as we work through this together. Be aware of social distancing guidelines and maintain six feet apart whenever possible (masks are required if the six-foot rule cannot be adhered to). For example, if you arrive and your locker area is “crowded” maybe you stand back and wait until the other member(s) are done, try to stagger entry and exit instead of walking side by side with a fellow brother or sister. Understandably, this is a very hard habit to break, but is one we should strive for. Finally, the Safety Team would like to thank all our members for their patience and understanding as we continue to deal with this.- Daniel Dunlap.
TARGET ZERO- Over the past few months our lives have taken an unexpected turn. The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the way we approach everything we do now. Everything from taking a trip to the store, to going on a walk in the park now requires more pre-planning before leaving the house. Getting distracted or having our minds wander may be more commonplace then it was a few months ago. When this happens at work, accidents can happen. With that being said, we need to remember to stay focused on the task at hand while at work. Take a moment to pre-plan your next job or task to make sure you haven’t forgotten or overlooked anything that could result in an incident. Keep your safety eyes open and alert. Keep an eye out for your co-workers as well. The Target Zero near miss program has logged around 700 near misses so far this year. That number is significant and shows that our workforce has a “Safety First” culture. Please keep that going so we all can go home to our families the same way we came into work.- Gordy Vanthoff
RAPID RESPONSE- Update on The Buy American Provision- it passed in New York State and is now a permanent provision. A special thanks to the membership for sending the Rapid Response Team to Albany in March to lobby for this action. The Rapid Response team recently had two actions. One was a call to tell both congressman and senators to vote against the Grow Act. This Bill would allow well-funded multiemployer pension plans to adopt a “hybrid” pension. It would cut out employer withdrawal liability and would eliminate the safety net of the PBGC (Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation) making pension benefits unpredictable. The other Rapid Response was an email we sent out to representatives to support the Covid-19 Every Worker Protection Act of 2020. This bill was to provide premium assistance for COBRA continuation coverage and furloughed continuation coverage for individuals and their families during the COVID-19 emergency period and 180-days thereafter, and for other purposes.- James Sheridan
GATE COLLECTION - There will be a gate collection for Steve “Twinkie” Pearson on June 12th and 13th. Steve works in Dept. 201 and has been out of work battling health issues for a long period of time. This collection was scheduled for earlier in the year but was rescheduled due to the Pandemic.
FLAG - The Company is presently restoring the flagpole which blew down during inclement weather last year. This flag is a matter of pride for our Membership, Salaried Employees and the WNY Community. There will be a flag raising ceremony when the work is complete.
LIVE CHECKS- Live checks will continue to be distributed like they have been in the past and direct deposit stubs will be mailed to Members homes.
Your USW Local 135L
Officers, Bargaining Board and Committees