Nearly 500 employees of toolmaker Stanley Works reject contract, approve strike

Monday, May 12th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

NEW BRITAIN, Conn. (AP) _ Nearly 500 employees at toolmaker The Stanley Works went on strike after rejecting the company's latest contract offer.

Everett Corey, a representative of the International Association of Machinists Local 1249, said the company did not address any of the union's concerns about job security, subcontractors, severance and pension issues in its proposed three-year contract. The strike began Sunday night.

``Our members are really primarily concerned about subcontracting in the area and outsourcing overseas,'' Corey said. He said jobs have been moved to Mexico, Thailand and China.

Philip Vitali, president of Local 1249, said subcontracting was a major issue.

``Our biggest problem ... in the past contract was the subcontractors on any given day outnumbered the union employees in the shop,'' Vitali said.

Vitali said company officials and representatives from locals 1249 and 1433 met 13 times and weren't able to agree on a new contract. The last contract expired at 12:01 a.m. Saturday.

The average wage for production workers at the New Britain and Farmington plants is $15.75 an hour, Mark Mathieu, Stanley's vice president of human resources, told The Hartford Courant. Stanley's contract proposal would have increased that to $16.50 over the three-year term.

``Our offer to the workers in these facilities was very fair in light of recent economic conditions,'' said John M. Trani, chairman and chief executive officer of The Stanley Works, in a statement. ``The plants will remain open and we will focus on sustaining production levels to support our customers.''

Earlier this month, the company said its first quarter net earnings dropped 61 percent to $19 million compared to last year's first quarter. Stanley Works said restructuring costs, impairment charges and other expenses totaling $17 million affected earnings.

The Stanley Works, an S&P 500 company, is a worldwide supplier of tools, hardware and doors for professional, industrial and consumer use.