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 agreement for a new five-year labor agreement to replace the current contract, which still has more than a year remaining. Last month, workers rejected another tentative agreement. A vote on the new proposal is planned for February 21.

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

The specialty steelmaker and manufacturer of bearings and power transmission components has said the new contract is necessary for it to achieve the operating costs required to proceed with a $225-million capital improvement project at its Faircrest Steel Plant in Canton, OH. The plans outlined last summer would add a new ladle metallurgy station and large bloom caster, to increase Faircrest’s capacity for large-diameter engineered steel bars for the 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 Faircrest plant is also the site of a $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.

A Timken source indicated that project is on track to start up in 2013.

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.

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