Sunday, March 25, 2001

Workers accept 3rd proposal

Trane ends strike with final contract offer to employees

The Associated Press

        LEXINGTON — Ending a monthlong strike, union workers at Trane Co. have voted to accept a third contract proposal.

        Trane, which manufactures heating and cooling systems, offered workers some improvements in their share of health-care costs, which were factors in the rejection of the first two proposals.

        The roughly 1,200 employees will return to work starting Sunday.

        Workers voted 598 to 283 for the contract on Friday. Union leaders and some employees said they were not satisfied with the changes but feared for their jobs.

        “I'm not happy with this, but this is about as good as I think it's going to get, and the alternative ain't pretty,” Tom Coffey, president of United Auto Workers Local 912, told workers before the vote. “We have been told that if this final contract is not ratified ... they will be sending certified letters to everyone to tell them to accept the original contract or they will begin hiring replacements.”

        Art Scheskie, spokesman for Trane, said he was unaware of any threats that workers could lose their jobs.

        In the first proposed contract, which was rejected by a nine-vote margin, the company offered a $1.40 per hour raise, but eliminated two no-cost health-care plans and increased the cost of new and existing plans.

        The second contract, rejected by a 299-vote margin, was similar to the first.

        In the contract approved Friday, one health-care plan premium is $1 less than in the first proposal. It also includes a more gradual increase in the prescription drug co-pay than the other plans. The co-pay for generic drugs will rise from $5 in the first year to $7 in the second year to $10 in the final year. The name-brand drug co-pay will be $10 in the first and second years and $20 in the third year.

        Mr. Coffey said the third plan cost the company $460,000 more than the first proposal.


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