New Machinists Union members employed by Cascades Containerboard in Niagara Falls, NY, recently rallied to call for a first contract. The 115 workers voted to join the IAM more than two years ago, and the National Labor Relations Board certified that election in June 2019.
It is extremely unusual for companies to delay bargaining to this extent after workers organize with the IAM.
Workers were joined at the rally by IAM Eastern Territory General Vice President Jimmy Conigliaro Sr. and IAM Headquarters General Vice President Brian Bryant. Nearly a dozen other unions showed their support. U.S. Rep. Brian Higgins (D-NY), Niagara Falls Mayor Robert Restaino, Western New York Area Labor Federation, AFL-CIO President Peter DeJesus and other labor officials spoke and pledged support to the workers.
Higgins wrote a letter to Cascades Containerboard President and Chief Operating Officer Charles Malo, strongly encouraging the company to engage with the IAM at the bargaining table.
Working conditions at the facility were key issues for the employees. Cascades hired notorious union-busters Jackson-Lewis to thwart the campaign, only to hire another firm, the so-called Labor Relations Institute, after the campaign to stall negotiations.
“These negotiations are stagnant, and it’s time for Cascades to seriously address them by returning to the table to negotiate,” said District 65 Directing Business Representative Ron Warner. “These workers deserve a fair contract now.”
WATCH: Niagara Falls union workers fighting for first contract Spectrum News 1 Buffalo
Workers at Cascades have been standing together in their fight for a first contract, despite draconian efforts to divide the group. Workers have withstood a very aggressive anti-union campaign put on by the company that included permanent sub-contracting of their work, resulting in layoffs and drastically reducing the annual bonus by 20 percent.
“I understand they fired Jackson-Lewis,” said Eastern Territory General Vice President Jimmy Conigliaro, Sr. “I thought they were the worst SOBs around, this company found somebody even worse! We’re not going to stand for it, this Executive Council is committed to fight side by side with our Brothers and Sisters at Cascades.”
READ: Cascades workers call for contract, two years after union vote The Buffalo News
“This failure to get a first contract is why we need national legislation, the Protecting the Right to Organize Act, also known as the PRO Act,” said IAM Headquarters General Vice President Brian Bryant. “The House of Representatives passed the PRO Act to give millions of American workers additional protections to organize and negotiate for better pay and benefits and a voice on the job.”
“I knew it would be close, but I knew we could get the numbers, because there was a changing of the guard,” said Chief Steward Shawn Reed. “There were a lot of new guys, my son works here, and I knew they were ready for a change.”
Cascades Containerboard workers in Niagara Falls, N.Y. demand a first contract, after the @CascadesSD company's two-year stall tactics, which don't follow the intent of the National Labor Relations Act's obligation to bargain in good faith. #1u pic.twitter.com/XFKMCL4t57
— Machinists Union ✈️🚊🚀 (@MachinistsUnion) May 27, 2021