Timken, USW in Tentative Labor Agreement

Five-year contract would green-light plant expansion

The Timken Co. and a local United Steelworkers of America union have arrived at a tentative, five-year labor agreement to replace the current contract, which still has more than a year remaining. Last month, workers rejected different proposal. A vote on the new offer is planned for February 21.

According to Timken’s statement, the new proposal is unanimously backed by the USW’s negotiators.

Timken said the proposed contract offers workers annual increases to permanent base wages; cost-of-living adjustments; increases in variable-pay opportunities and incentive pay programs; improvements in health and wellness insurance packages; more pension benefits; and changes to the wage-escalation rates for new workers.

Contract discussions have been underway for several months, though the current agreement doesn’t expire until September 2013. Timken wants to replace that contract in order to have more labor-cost control before it commits to a capital-improvement project for its Faircrest Steel Plant in Canton, Ohio.

A $225-million capital improvement program was outlined last summer, and would add a new ladle metallurgy statement and large-dimension bloom caster in order to produce working material for large-diameter engineered steel bars. Timken indicated it would be increasing Faircrest’s finished products capacity by 25%, to supply heavy equipment and energy markets.

"We have outlined a very attractive investment for our steel operations," stated Timken Steel Group president Salvatore J. Miraglia, Jr. "But, it clearly will not move forward without a new agreement that ensures workforce stability throughout construction and startup. The vote will be our final opportunity to put the pieces in place to make this investment happen."

The same plant is also the site of an ongoing, $35-million project to install North America’s first in-line forging press. It’s an open-die operation that shapes billets or ingots before they are fully solidified, to improve the internal structural quality of the products and enhance material yield. It also decreases the number of rolling passes needed to achieve the final dimensions in the finished products.

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