Union contract negotiations typically take into account cost-of-living adjustments and strive to incorporate fair wage increases.
As a sign of the times, this contract incorporated trends in the overall labor market—namely the high number of open jobs in the manufacturing sector.
As such, both ContiTech and USW District 11 placed a premium in the new contract on changes that benefit hiring and retainment.
"We increased our starting wage for new hires and reduced the amount of time that it would take the new-hire employees to reach top rate by 50 percent," Belback said.
Previously a 6-year wage progression, the wage scale in the new contract was reduced to three years.
"If we are going to try to retain employees, six years is too long, especially during this COVID crunch," Ramirez said. "This allowed people to reach the top of their wage scale in 36 months. ... This was a big thing for us."
In addition, a new hire now can receive a week of vacation time after 60 days, considered their probationary period.
"We added vacation (time) for new hires and reduced the eligibility waiting period for health and welfare benefits for new hires," Belback said.
Under the new contract, new employees are eligible for health insurance after 31 days, as opposed to 90 days.
"We are pleased to come to a quick and fair agreement for our workers," said Rick Ledsinger, head of labor relations for Continental. "The well-being of our employees is a top priority for us. We are grateful to work side-by-side with the USW and look forward to continuing to provide great products and service for our customers."
Employees at the three facilities are represented by USW Locals 843L (Marysville, Ohio), 286L (Lincoln, Neb.) and 904L (Sun Prairie, Wis.).
"Our bargaining committee negotiated wage, pension and benefit improvements without sacrificing the security of our jobs or our union," Ramirez said. "The hard work and dedication of our membership has been rewarded with a fair contract."