Acton International Inc. should return to full operation by mid-November following the settlement of a labor dispute that shut down most production at its Acton Vale plant in early September.
The rubber footwear subsidiary of AirBoss of America Corp. continued manufacturing products for its major customers during a two-month lockout by shifting production to its Kitchener, Ontario, facility, according to Robert L. Hagerman, CEO and president of Newmarket, Ontario-based AirBoss.
Acton Vale-headquartered Acton locked out about 325 members of Syndicat Canadien des Communications de l'Energie et du Papier Local 480 on Sept. 2 after workers turned down a mediator's proposal following months of negotiations.
Union members remained out until they voted Oct. 29 to accept a four-year contract that calls for successive yearly wage increases of 1.5, 2, 2.5 and 3 percent, which is virtually the same pact they turned down earlier this year, Hagerman said. About 79 percent of voting union members approved the pact.
"I still don't understand why this took so long," he said. "There's no significant difference between the contract they accepted and the one that was offered earlier under mediation. There's no reason this could not have been settled in June or, for that matter, in March."
The lockout cost the company about $500,000 in fixed overhead costs, he indicated. Union officials couldn't be reached for comment.
Profits for the third quarter will be reduced from expectations of 5 to 8 cents a share to break even, Hagerman estimated, but not just because of the labor dispute. The higher Canadian dollar, weak U.S. demand and higher raw material prices were contributing factors, he said.
AirBoss doesn't expect significant improvement in earnings until 2004 despite year-to-year volume increases in its primary business sectors, such as rubber compounding and military protective wear.