Dec. 12, 2016

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UUP leaders join Momentive picket line

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CLICK HERE for video coverage of UUP at Momentive

Nearly two dozen UUP leaders gave striking workers at the Momentive Performance Materials chemical plant in Waterford, N.Y. a shot in the arm Dec. 9, braving frigid weather to join them on the picket line.

“UUP is out here to show solidarity with the strikers. This is a battle that all labor has to be involved with, especially in the aftermath of the election,” said UUP President Fred Kowal. “We have to stand stronger than ever. We’re here with IUE and CWA; it’s a real moment of pride for us.”

Close to 700 Momentive workers went out on strike Nov. 2 after five months of bargaining talks and two failed ratification votes. The workers are represented by IUE-CWA Local 81359.

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UUP statewide Executive Board member Kim Hartshorn of SUNY Plattsburgh, left, pictured with Potsdam Chapter President Laura Rhoads, said people often forget how important unions are to working people.

“Unions are what built the working class of this country and they’ll be what will protect the working class in the future,” he said. “Anything that anyone who works in this country sees as a benefit is there because of unions, whether they’re in a union or not. And that’s why I’m here—to show solidarity with the greater labor movement.”

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VPA Jamie Dangler and VPP Philippe Abraham, above, also took part in the picket, along with Secretary Eileen Landy, Treasurer Rowena Blackman-Stroud, and Membership Development Officer Tom Hoey. Members of UUP's Executive Board also walked.

Ever vigiliant

Momentive workers have been on the picket line 24/7—even through the Thanksgiving holiday—and will continue until a settlement is reached.

Donations for the strikers can be mailed to CWA District One, 80 Pine St., 37th Floor New York, NY 10005. Please make checks payable to CWA District One Hospitality Committee; Please write Momentive Strikers donation in the memo section.

Local 81359 Vice President Darryl Houshower said workers have faced “incremental concessions” in the last two contracts. In 2010, local members lost wages, some as much as 50 percent. In 2013, the concessions continued with the elimination of pension benefits for workers under age 50, putting those employees into 401(k) plans instead.

“Three short years later, the company wants to take 1 percent from the 401(k)s that they guaranteed to those people who weren’t going to get a defined pension,” Houshower said. “On top of that, Momentive wants to cut health care. If you retire at age 60 after 30 years, they want you to retire without any health care whatsoever until age 65. That forces people to work longer and that’s five years of pension money they don’t have to spend.”

“The company is doing well right now.” Houshower added. “We don’t want a huge piece of the pie but we want out fair share.”

In a Nov. 8 press statement on Momentive’s third-quarter results, CEO and President Jack Boss said the company is experiencing “continued growth” and an “operating cash flow (of) $77 million compared with $31 million in the first nine months of 2015.”

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