I've been following this story for months and here reporting to you the developments. The last few weeks have been crazy for me, so I apologize for the delay in getting this important story out to you!
Exciting news!!! I CAN DRINK MILLER AGAIN!
The women of Miller settled their dispute and will receive a fair contract in comparison to the predominently male unions' recent contracts. What a huge win not only for workers, but for women overall and also for Miller (happy, well compensated workers are GOOD and loyal workers and in the end good for Miller's business).
Congratulations to the women of Local 35 OPEIU and thanks to all those who did their part to support equity for female workers in Milwaukee.
FEMALE UNION MEMBERS REACH DEAL WITH MILLER
June 1, 2007 – Members of Local 35, OPEIU, voted overwhelmingly (65-6) last night to ratify a new five-year contract with the Miller Brewing Company. The agreement affects 118 employees – most are women who average 53 years of age and 20 years of service – at Miller’s Milwaukee headquarters and brewery. As part of the agreement, the Union agreed to withdraw federal and state discrimination complaints against Miller. The contract provides:
• Increases in life insurance and accident and sickness benefits.
• An increase of almost 20% in the pension multiplier, from $59 to $70 per year. This will mean substantial pension increases for current employees.
• Several improvements in early retirement provisions.
• Guaranteed retiree health coverage until at least 2011.
• Wage increases of eight percent over the life of the contract, and hikes in merit pay.
In return for these provisions, employees’ pensions will freeze after 2009. The company will then replace the pension with a 401 (k) plan. The company will contribute $2.25 per hour into a 401 (k) plan for new employees effective immediately. When the pension plan freezes at the end of 2009, the company will pay $2.70 per hour ($5,616 per year) into the 401 (k) plan for every employee, including those eligible for a pension.
“We achieved our major objective, which was to protect the pensions of our members, by winning increases in the multiplier that will mean millions of dollars to our members over the years,” said Local 35 Business Manager Judy Burnick. “We also obtained a substantial defined employer contribution plan for future employees who will not have a pension. We didn’t get everything we wanted but we are certainly a hell of a lot better off now than we were with management’s so-called ‘final offer.’ It took creativity, hard work, and solid unity by our members and the support of elected officials and other unions to win this contract.”
Burnick thanked Wisconsin Lt. Governor Barbara Lawton and Rep. Gwen Moore for their help. She also thanked local and state labor officials for their aid. “We owe special thanks to our International Union, OPEIU, and its President, Michael Goodwin, for strategic support and generous financial assistance,” she said. Local 35 produced videos that it placed on YouTube, ran newspaper ads, held rallies and informational picketing and engaged in a host of other activities during the contract drive. Burnick added, “OPEIU helped pay for most of it as well as for many of the legal fees associated with the discrimination complaints.”
Summing up the long, hard, contract fight, Burnick said, “It was a multi-billion dollar foreign-owned company against 118 middle-income workers. The results could hardly be called a victory for Miller.” For further details call: Judy Burnick 414-588-2097