Huhtamaki Union Official Goes Public with Contract Battle

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.”


  1. Once again, unions are going to screw things up! Take the contract or there will be no Hutamaki in Fulton, NY. I highly doubt the statistics here are credible. Regardless, workers are better off accepting the increase in healthcare (no thanks to Obama) than to lose their jobs.

  2. Chris, if you don’t work there or know what is being expected then maybe you should find out before commenting. Do you have an extra $3500 a year to put toward your healthcare? We sure don’t.You need to understand that HUHTAMAKI employees do not get any paid sick time or paid personal time. Healthcare is not something they are willing to give up.

  3. I noticed you said “Take the contract” instead of accept the contract. take it they will: right up their uknowwhats if they ratify. You must be one of those welfare recips that don’t care whether or not working people get what they deserve! For your info…without business, unions, and workers you wouldn’t get your monthly free handout because everyone would be like you. People need incentive to work but you wouldn’t understand that concept now would ya?

  4. workinman? You are so wrong, never taken a dime from the government. I prefer not to see more trash around town, which is exactly why I hope the workers know enough to take advantage of this contract. In case you have not noticed, our economy has changed for the worse with Obama’s policies and therefore workers need to make minor concessions like this to keep jobs.

  5. Once again Chris, seems you don’t work there, you would consider it a “minor” concession. Most of the people who work there have families to support and certainly cannot (in this economy) afford to shell out an extra $3500 a year.
    More under certain plans if I am informed correctly. The workers would not be “taking advantage of the contract”, the company would be taking advantage of the employees. Why don’t you check with someone who works there and see when they last had a full weekend off. (not the “office” people) They are hard working men and women and they deserve fairness in the contract. They aren’t asking to get the paid sick days and the paid personal days. They aren’t asking the company to pay a bigger share than what they have been.They are asking to continue getting what they have been getting.

    Chris, do you get paid sick time? Paid personal time? Do you get “points” if you call in cause you’re sick or leave early cause you’re sick or have an appoinment you cannot miss? Do you work 12 hour shifts 7 days a week? It isn’t just the insurance they want to screw the HARD WORKING, DEDICATED EMPLOYEES on, it is their overtime also. If you don’t know the facts, you should learn them before commenting. This is stressful enough on the workers and families without someone who knows nothing about it saying they should bow down and take what is offered even though it will disadvantage them. We are all well aware that the company could pull a hissy fit and close but USW begins with the word UNITED and that is how they must stand against the big corparate bully. If they lose their jobs it will be a strugle but we will survive. If they run with their tail between their legs, what will corparate want to take next time? HUHTAMAKI has THE best workers around. It’s time corprate showed them how much they are appreciated.

  6. Stay strong guys, 3500 x 500 = 1.75 million. A little over 1 percent of the company profits. If you cave in, you will give more and more until the company posts record profits, and closes the plant. I’ve been there more than once. I get tired of the people who do not have such a job telling you to settle for less because they did. One even posted during the constellation strike that we should work through our lunch breaks and work over for free because this was the new reality. What is this, the 1900’s? They are getting away with it because people are willing to do anything for a job. I understand their point, but the corporations are taking advantage of cheap labor to pad the bottom line instead of investing in the community and economy.

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