VAN WERT — Hundreds of employees at the Federal-Mogul Corp.’s Van Wert plant went on strike Monday after union representatives failed to reach a contract agreement with the company.
A total of 333 individuals represented by United Steelworkers union Local 14742 took to the picket line at midnight, and were still on strike Monday evening.
“We will picket until we have a ratified contract,” said Patrick Herman, president of Local 14742. “We’ll go for as long as it takes.”
The strike began after union members “overwhelmingly” rejected the company’s last, best and final offer, Herman said. He would not reveal the vote’s final tally.
Herman said the union took issue with several elements of the proposed contract. He said Federal-Mogul is looking to freeze the defined pension of its employees, and to exclude company health insurance from the spouses of many workers. In addition, second-tier employees — those who were hired after a certain date — would be paid lower wages than those hired in the first tier.
“We have second-tier employees that don’t make as much in wages or receive as good of benefits,” said Herman, who has worked at the company for 26 years. “So for those employees we are looking for increases that are better than what the company is offering.”
Herman said the union was in contact with Federal-Mogul representatives on Monday, though there is no meeting scheduled at this point in time.
“We look forward to meeting with the company and trying to reach a fair and equitable agreement,” he said.
David Gendron, human resources director for Federal-Mogul’s Powertrain Division, was in Van Wert on Monday to meet with company representatives.
“Federal-Mogul Powertrain is currently in discussion with employee representatives about the strike action in Van Wert,” Gendron said. “These discussions are ongoing and, as such, we have nothing to share at this time.”
This is not the first time Federal-Mogul employees have gone on strike. In November 2013, nearly 400 union members picketed as a result of a contract dispute. An agreement with the company was reached just one day later. Herman said the dispute centered around “the same type of issues” that are currently being addressed.
Federal-Mogul is a global manufacturer of nondiscretionary parts for automobiles, light trucks, heavy trucks and farm and construction vehicles. The Van Wert facility manufactures seals for the heavy duty and industrial marketplace, with a focus on oil bath seals and railroad seals.
Reach John Bush at 567-242-0456 or on Twitter @bush_lima.