Omnova Solutions Inc. employees have been manning the gates at the Columbus plant for 24 hours a day, all weekend.
And with negotiations at a standstill, there”s no end in sight for the worker strike, which began Friday afternoon. Friday was the last time the United Steelworkers Local 748-L communicated with company officials, said Jay Lawrence, president of the local union.
“The company wants radical changes in the contract, and we want to keep our contract,” he said of the discussion that prompted the strike.
The union wants to maintain incentives, seniority rights and shift rights included in its contract for the past 40 years. The 40-year-old contract was ratified after a three-month strike.
Seniority rights included getting first choice on shifts and preference on job openings.
The company, in the past, has worked in three shifts — 7 a.m.-3 p.m., 3-11 p.m. and 11 a.m.-7 p.m. The company “cut the second shift out months ago,” Lawrence said.
“Probably half the plant, has been working 12 hours, working through the second shift on overtime,” he added.
Omnova has implemented its strike contingency plan and continues to produce commercial wall coverings and upholstery.
“The plant is running; we are still making product,” Sandi Noah, director of communications for Omnova, confirmed this morning.
The union and company have expressed the desire to continue negotiations, but thus far, there is no timeline for when discussions will resume.
“As it ended, I don”t see any negotiations in the near future,” Lawrence said, noting workers are willing to pay more for insurance but would like to retain other benefits as is.
“We realize insurance is going up each year. We”re willing to help, and we”ve been doing so,” he said. “Each year there”s an increase on our insurance premiums, just like everywhere else.”
“As of this time, there”s no plans of negotiations to resume,” Noah said, adding the contract ended on May 15. There”s no timeline for when it might occur, but we are interested in getting back to the table.”
“We”re willing to negotiate any time, the union is, (to) reach some middle ground,” Lawrence said.
Omnova”s Columbus plant employs 259 people, 174 of which are hourly wage workers, and is one of the area”s top 12 employers.
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