1) It is a 3-year contract. The MCA rejected our proposal for a 1-year contract. They insisted on a 3-year proposal. The middle ground is a 2-year contract. Good faith bargaining should have found this middle ground before we received this proposal.
2) Minimum contract language changes were agreed upon. We got tangled up over wage rates and stopped negotiating over necessary issues. A number of issues proposed by our Brothers and Sisters were cast aside early in negotiations. Chief among those is time and a half pay for our wage and benefit package. If we accept this contract we can not revisit this issue until 2013. As we struggle to meet future funding levels for our pension and medical benefits this issue will haunt us.
3) The MCA wanted arbitration. The body rejected arbitration. The Local Union does not need to surrender their right to collectively bargaining and neither does the MCA. Why would either side admit that they are so inept that they can not find further common ground? We have agreed to a 1st year wage rate. What prevented us from agreeing to a 2nd and if necessary, a 3rd year wage rate? It is time for the MCA to stop pouting about the 2007 negotiations. My advice to both sides is simple, put this proposal away and settle the wage differences. Man up and agree that we can reach a reasonable and equitable solution for the remaining years.
4) Arbitration means that strangers will settle our contract. Those that would argue that the IRC is a jury of our peers ignore several major points. The Union and contractor representatives on the IRC don’t live or shop in our metropolitan area. Our cost of living is different than theirs. We are a Union of Steamfitters. Their world is one where the plumbers and fitters are combined. Further, none of them pay the servicemen the same rate as the plumber or fitter. They pay their servicemen at a lower rate. Our servicemen will be taking a huge step backwards to a bygone era.
5) June 1st deadline for arbitration is an artificial date that only benefits the MCA. This is an open invite for the MCA to drag their feet as they did this year. I have not found anyone who can tell me when we ever concluded negotiations two months prior to the end of a contract. This unrealistic date is a guarantee that the next two years will be settled through arbitration. Go to our Union website and look where we were on June 29, 2010. It will shock you how far apart we were at that time. Worse yet it allows the contractors to cause dissension in our Union just prior to our elections on June 6, 2011 and June 4, 2012. If there were a complete turnover of our full time officers in 2012, we would have rookies leading us into arbitration. Think about it. Don’t be naïve and think that they would not turn their heads and let a dissident group do their dirty work on company time. It has happened in the past. It is happening right now.