An official of the union representing workers at Fulton’s largest private employer is making public some details of the long-running contract discussion with the company.
Al Smith, President of Local 54 of the United Steelworkers Union at Huhtamaki, commented on the dispute in a commentary published on the national union’s blog.
Workers rejected a contract offer in June that would have cut medical benefits, changed overtime rules and provided no pay increases. The company makes paper food containers. It employs about 500 people.
Smith noted that Huhtamaki made a profit of more than $150 million, then said, “Under the company’s current healthcare proposal the overwhelming majority of our members would see their monthly contribution to healthcare premiums increase to 30% of the plan cost by the end of the contract—a full 10% above what most other union paper workers pay. We would also see dramatic cuts in the quality of the healthcare plans. We estimate that by the end of the contract members in one of our plans would shell out an additional $3,500 per year for their healthcare.”
He said that the union believes the changes in overtime rules are intended to attack workers who take time off to care for family members under the federal Family Medical Leave Act.
And he notes that Huhtamaki is based in Finland, where “healthcare is considered a human right and is fully funded by the government.”