November 9, 2007



BorgWarner workers to vote on union

Staff Reporter

A week from today more than 1,000 production and maintenance workers at BorgWarner Morse TEC’s three area plants will vote to stay with their current union, join a new union or to stop being unionized.
The employees, about 900 workers at the two Ithaca plants and 100 at the Cortland plant, are starting the fifth year of a five-year contract with the International Association of Machinists Local 2001.
Workers at BorgWarner have been represented by that union for about 65 years.
After the third year of a contract another union is able to try to get the workers to join its union, which is what the Teamsters Local 317 is doing.
This is a unique situation because until about two years ago all Teamsters locals belonged to the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, or AFL-CIO, of which International Association of Machinist locals are also a part.
Those organizations had agreed to not compete against each other for union contracts.
Mark May, vice president of Teamsters Local 317 working with the BorgWarner employees, could not be reached this week to say when or how his organization first got in touch with the BorgWarner employees.
Galen Munroe, press secretary for the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, said the Teamsters generally do not like much publicity in beginning stages of representing new companies.
Pat Murphy, assistant director for the National Labor Relations Board’s Buffalo regional office, said his office received a petition from the Teamsters on Oct. 3 showing at least 30 percent of BorgWarner’s production and maintenance workers in Cortland and Ithaca favor unionizing with the Teamsters.
The petition contains no specifics about what the Teamsters hope to offer the workers in terms of wages or benefits, or how they could better serve the workers than their current union, Murphy said.
Teamsters representatives declined to provide that information.
John Carr, a communications representative for the International Association of Machinist’s eastern territory, said on average the wages and benefits of the BorgWarner employees it represents are worth $27.50 per hour.
Other terms of the current contract include 13 paid holidays per year, up to four weeks of paid vacation and full health care premiums coverage for employees with Blue Cross Blue Shield’s PPO1 plan.



Dryden approves its 2008 budget

Staff Reporter

DRYDEN — Funding for fire departments within Dryden was the most discussed topic Thursday before the Town Council passed a nearly $5.4 million budget with an additional $1.9 million for special fire, sewer and water districts.
The budget, which is 10 percent more than the current budget, passed unanimously. Although spending is increased, the budget carries the same tax rate as the current budget, $1.44 per $1,000 of assessed property value.
Councilman Marty Christofferson asked why Etna and Varna fire department budgets had increased so much. Etna’s more than doubled, from $60,000 to $130,000 and Varna’s contract increased from $186,811 to $218,591.
Councilwoman Mary Ann Sumner said the extra money was to help stabilize the departments’ equipment reserve funds so there would not be big spikes in what they ask for because of expensive equipment needs.
“We were still able to do it without changing the tax rate,” she said.
Councilman Steve Stelick Jr. said the board also put into the contracts reimbursements from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, inflating the increase. These reimbursements had been done in the past in addition to the budget.
When Christofferson pointed out that the budget for Varna exceeded that of Drydens Neptune Hose Company, Councilman David Makar pointed out that Neptune is more than 100 years old and has a greater ability to save up money than the other companies that are no older than 50 years.
“Neptune got exactly what they asked for,” noted Sumner, who also said both Etna and Varna received less than requested.
Christofferson said he thinks the town needs more ambulances and fewer fire trucks.
Cheryl Nelson, a resident of Dryden, suggested the town consolidate the fire departments into one paid fire department. None are currently paid.
Nelson said the fire department issue was one concern she heard while campaigning for supervisor. She also suggested the supervisor position be made full-time and be paid as such. Neither of these suggestions was acted upon.