AMHERST, N.S. – There could be some labour uncertainty at one of Amherst’s largest employers after workers at IMP Aerostructures rejected the company’s latest contract offer.
Richard Allen, president of Local 4883 of the United Steelworkers of America, said unionized employees voted more than 80 per cent on Sunday against the final company offer.
“The offer is anything but fair, in fact it’s insulting,” Allen told the Amherst News.
Allen said the union’s 204 workers have been making high-quality parts for the aerospace industry for more than 25 years, but the company is insisting its members who are age 65 and offer will have their life insurance coverage reduced by 50 per cent and their long-term disability benefits eliminated in addition “to in essence stand-pat wages.”
Allen said the union membership includes numerous employees who would lose benefits if the offer were accepted. He said the union simply cannot accept the company’s offer.
“To us it’s cruel and unusual punishment that does nothing to reward years of hard work by its loyal and skilled workers,” Allen said.
The two sides had been in conciliation for several weeks.
Several weeks ago, the members voted overwhelmingly in favour of taking strike action. Despite this mandate, Allen said a strike date has yet to be set. He said the union wants to go back to the negotiating table and is urging the company to return to the table “and make a reasonable offer that respects the dignity of the workers and the loyalty they’ve shown over the years.”
Company officials could not be reached for comment on Monday afternoon.
IMP Aerostructures was the scene of a bitter strike in early 1994. The workers came close to going back on the picket line several years later but a last-minute deal brought about labour peace that has lasted up until this point.
In 2015, the company and the union were able to hammer out a new collective agreement after a day-long negotiating session in which both sides agreed to concessions to avert a strike.