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UAW, TRW talks ‘progressing’

Sara McManamy-Johnson • Dec 17, 2015 at 5:17 PM

Negotiations are moving forward between United Auto Workers Local 342 workers and Lebanon TRW management, according to a UAW representative.

According to Hendrix, union representatives and TRW management met Friday, Monday and Tuesday.

“The company has our proposal, and they’re looking that over,” said Ron Hendrix, UAW International representative for region 8. “Things are progressing.”

Nearly 400 workers at TRW’s commercial steering systems production facility in Lebanon went on strike Aug. 25 after negotiations failed between union representatives and company management.

“This is the third negotiation I’ve been in with [TRW], and this is the first one that’s ever had to come to this,” said Hendrix.

Kevin Huddleston, a UAW spokesperson and former Lebanon City Council member, said workers want higher pay, as well as better health care and retirement benefits.

“When I started in 1993, there were probably close to 600 people working on the floor, and I started at a little over $10 an hour. And 20 years later, you’re starting people at less than what I started at, plus you’re not even giving them any benefits,” said Huddleston, who said many workers are hired as temporary employees.

For those workers who do have benefits, insurance premiums for one family can be as high as $180 a week.

“We made this company more competitive back in 2008 with cuts,” said Hendrix.

In 2008, UAW workers took $15 million worth of concessions during TRW negotiations to help reduce the financial hit the company was already taking during the recession, according to Huddleston.

“The company said they needed it to be competitive, and our membership was more than willing to help this company,” said Huddleston.

He said workers gave up not only wages and jobs, but also vacation time and insurance premiums, and workers’ pensions were frozen.

Now that the company’s profits are up and have been consistently, Huddleston said it’s time to move forward with gains.

“All these workers are asking for is some equality and some respect,” said Hendrix. “Unfortunately it came to this situation, and we have to work together as a group and try to solve this and get these workers back to work and start making this company profitable.”

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