Middle Georgia BASF Locals Use Building Power Training to Strengthen Communication Ahead of Negotiations

Locals 9-237, 9-237-1 and 9-2333 in Middle Georgia are using the Building Power training they received April 4-5 to strengthen their communication with their membership ahead of bargaining with BASF Corporation in September.

All three locals bargain economic items together, and their contracts expire Sept. 30, 2019.

“We started talking about Building Power training last year at the District 9 conference,” said Tommy Daniel, president of Locals 9-237 and 9-237-1. “We got with Tommy Wright, our staff representative, and he set it up. Katrina Fitzgerald and Kim Teplitzky from the USW Strategic Campaigns Department came down and did a great job.”

“For the newer guys, it opened their eyes to a lot of what happens in preparation for bargaining. They learned a lot. All we have to do is execute what we came up with,” he added.

The three units work in two locations in close proximity to one another. The McIntyre and Gordon operations mine kaolin, also called chalk. It is used in the paper industry to produce the gloss for magazines and as filler for pulp. It also is used in items like tableware, medicines, makeup and catalytic converters for automobiles.

Locals 9-237, 9-237-01 and 9-233 represent 305 workers together. Daniel said that many workers have over 30 years of service, but the company has been hiring new employees.

“We have several young guys that have become stewards and recording secretary. They’re really showing interest in negotiations and the union,” he said.

Determining Bargaining Priorities

Daniel said the locals sent out a contract survey to the members. The negotiating committee will pick the five or six areas members rated as important, and then send the survey to the membership again to determine the critical issues that must be addressed in a new contract.

The locals formed Communication Action Teams (CATs), and Daniel said he has an enthusiastic young worker who will be the CAT coordinator.  Each department will also have a coordinator and a CAT member for each shift.

“I believe the training helped us get the word out,” he said.

The locals are hosting the BASF Council meeting July 30-31, 2019 so the negotiating committee can hear about other locals’ negotiations, learn what to expect in bargaining and meet the other council members. It’s a relatively new bargaining committee, and this will be his first time at the lead table, Daniel said.

“We have a good relationship with the company, but we see where they want to try new things since they are new to the site,” Daniel said. “The two-tier wage structure for new hires in the packaging positions is causing problems, and now the company is hinting about job combinations.

“This time we have full-blown negotiations. The last one was just economics. With new management, I figure these negotiations may be tough this time,” he added.

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