Steelworkers at Cequent Towing Products in Goshen, Ind., say they have had trouble getting vacation time so far this year, according to the South Bend Tribune.
So United Steelworkers Local 9550 staged an informational picket at the company Wednesday afternoon (March 10), and they’re scheduled to meet with company officials today to discuss the issue.
An unscheduled meeting Wednesday afternoon resulted in preliminary discussions on the dispute with nothing being resolved.
The company did not return several calls seeking comment.
The three-hour picket took place at the factory in Goshen.
The union represents nearly 300 workers at the factory, which makes hitches for towing.
“Our work force works hard, 10 hours a day, and despite the bad economy, business is going well,” said Deb Hathaway, grievance chairwoman, in a release from the United Steelworkers. “If Cequent can’t run their business while granting people the time they have earned to be with their families and to schedule medical appointments, they need to hire more workers.”
Hathaway said many workers are being forced to take unpaid excused and personal days to visit doctors. But Hathaway said workers want to take vacation days and get paid for 40 hours.
Hathaway said the dispute began in January when workers were not allowed to take vacation time because of the workload.
“They tell us now it was only for two weeks (in January),” Hathaway said. “Then they said things started to ease up a bit so one person per department could take off. With the size of our plant, one person per department, we are never going to get our vacation used up.”
Robin Rich, union organizer, said workers used to be able to call up and say “this is when I need my vacation or I need to have tomorrow off for my vacation day or I am going to use my attendance bonuses,” and get the day off.
Whether it be a short-term request or a long-term one, they are now getting turned down, Rich said.
“A lady went in and tried to schedule a week off in August and the company said, ‘No, we are not going to let you schedule it,'” said Mike O’Brien, United Steelworkers director for Sub-District 4 (which includes all of northern Indiana).
“They have drastically cut back … to the point where people are saying, ‘If I can’t get my vacation in, what am I going to do?'” Rich said.
Workers have been offered pay back for one week of vacation. But Rich said that is not adequate when you need time off with your family.
Rich said one of the reasons for calling an informational picket was because the normal grievance procedure can take so long “that the whole year goes by and people are not getting the vacations they earned last year.”
“We hope they understand how serious we are about giving people what they’ve earned,” Rich said.
O’Brien believes hiring more workers could solve the problem.
Hathaway said the union understands the need for the company to serve its customers, but hiring more workers could help solve the vacation problem.
TriMas Corp. today (Nov. 9) announced financial results for the quarter ended Sept. 30.
The Bloomfield Hills, Mich.-based company reported quarterly net sales from continuing operations of $203.7 million, a decrease of 21.9% from third quarter of 2008. Third quarter 2009 income from continuing operations decreased 19.2% from third quarter 2008 to $6.5 million from $8.1 million a year ago, according to a news release.
For its Cequent towing products segment, sales decreased 6.5% for the third quarter compared to the year ago period. The company continued to experience weak, but improving, consumer demand for heavy-duty towing, trailer and electrical products, as a result of uncertain economic conditions and reductions in consumer discretionary spending, and the unfavorable effects of currency exchange, partially offset by a slight increase in sales in the Australia/Asia Pacific business.
Operating profit for the quarter improved as a result of cost reductions implemented as part of the company’s Profit Improvement Plan, partially offset by lower sales volumes, unfavorable foreign currency exchange and lower absorption of fixed costs. Due to the cost reduction actions, operating profit as a percentage of sales also improved approximately 560 basis points compared to the third quarter of 2008. The segment was negatively impacted by $2.1 million in charges associated with the closure of its Mosinee, Wis., manufacturing facility and other business restructuring costs. The company continues to aggressively reduce fixed costs, decrease working capital and leverage strong brand positions for increased market share.
“We are executing on our productivity, working capital and growth initiatives,” said David Wathen, TriMas president and CEO. “Compared to last quarter, we improved operating profit margin by 280 basis points on slightly lower revenues, decreased operating working capital by almost $23 million and generated over $43 million of free cash flow. Sales and end market demand are still down, but we are using this environment to make TriMas a permanently better business.
“As we move forward, we will continue our focus on reducing costs and working capital in each business segment. We remain focused on debt reduction and the protection of our liquidity. During the quarter, we reduced total indebtedness by $22 million and ended the quarter with almost $25 million in cash. While we are pleased with the progress we are making across these initiatives, there is more work to be done.
“For the full year of 2009, we continue to anticipate revenue to be down 20% to 25% compared to 2008, consistent with our comments last quarter. We are allocating some resources to key growth initiatives aimed at expanding end markets and geographies. We are also beginning to see positive signs in some of our businesses, as our Packaging and Cequent segments project fourth quarter 2009 revenues close to fourth quarter 2008 levels. These developments lead us to expect at least modest revenue gains for next year. We are, however, continuing to operate our company with the realization we are still in a time of economic uncertainty. We are committed to maintaining cushion on our bank covenants, delevering TriMas and ensuring liquidity for our future endeavors.”