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UAW, Navistar reach tentative pact; ratification vote Saturday

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Holly Shively, The Springfield News-Sun  /  January 17, 2019

SPRINGFIELD —  Hundreds of Springfield Navistar employees expecting signing bonuses and other lump sums won’t get the payouts come Thursday.

The six-year national deal between the United Auto Workers and major Springfield employer Navistar has become a major point of dispute. UAW representatives have said the contract is ratified since it was approved in December, but Navistar spokeswoman Lyndi McMillan said all contracts at the national and local levels must be ratified before any proposed changes are implemented.

Springfield’s local UAW didn’t ratify its local contract and is still in negotiations a day before the employees expect their payouts. Union workers at all seven Navistar locations nationally won’t get the payouts they say they are owed since Navistar doesn’t view the main contract as ratified.

 “Back in December when we were originally going to ratify the contracts, it was put in there that if the contract was ratified that day in December, we would pay out no later than Jan. 17,” McMillan said.

But since the contract isn’t in effect, according to Navistar, the truck manufacturer is operating under an extended version of its former agreement, which expired in October, McMillan said. Once the local contract is ratified and all agreements go into effect, a new date will be set for the payouts.

But the UAW national branch in Detroit has said the Springfield agreement has no impact on the main contract.

“The UAW position is that the contract is binding and payouts are due on Jan. 17,” said Brian Rothenberg, UAW national spokesman in Detroit. He declined to comment further on what will happen if the payouts aren’t received.

Navistar and the Springfield UAW are meeting daily on one or two open issues, McMillan said. The local agreements typically focus on issues such as work rules at each local facility, staffing on the assembly line and similar topics.

Local UAW 402 president Chris Blizard refused to comment on the negotiations.

“We’re confident that both sides will come to an agreement that’s a win-win for us as a company and as a union,” McMillen said.

Highlights of the six-year deal include a $2,000 signing bonus, a $1,000 profit-sharing payout, and a 4-percent lump sum payment for workers this year and 3-percent lump sum payments in 2020 and 2022, according to information from the UAW.

The new deal also includes pension plan improvements, the elimination of tiered wages and language to keep the contract intact in case the company is sold or merged.

The UAW represents the majority of Navistar’s local workers. There are about 2,000 workers in the facility now and thousands of retirees living in the area.

As early as 2010 the company only had 300 workers in its local plant, though. It has made a major turnaround in recent years reporting a net income of $170 million in the third quarter of 2018, up from $37 million the same quarter the previous year.

The national agreement covers Navistar Local 6 and 2293 in Melrose Park; Ill., Local 472 in Atlanta; Local 119 in Dallas; Local 1872 in York, Pa. and Local 402 and 658 in Springfield. Local 658 is a clerical unit.

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