Poly-Seal workers to vote on new contract

April 11, 1994|By Ross Hetrick | Ross Hetrick,Sun Staff Writer

Striking workers at Poly-Seal Corp., a Baltimore-based maker of plastic bottle caps and other container seals, will vote Wednesday on a proposed contract that changes work schedules and revamps health benefits.

But the president of the local union has already refused to endorse the proposal, and he doubted whether the rest of the union negotiating committee would recommend it to the rank and file.

"They haven't put anything on the table. To me they are not bargaining in good faith," said Robert S. Meyers, president of Local 6967 of the United Steelworkers of America, which represents the 380 workers who have been on strike for five weeks.

The proposed contract is being presented to the membership at the request of a federal mediator who was at a negotiating session on Friday, Mr. Meyers said.

"We figured it's a chance to let them see what's coming on the table," he said.

The proposal is the company's "final offer," Mr. Meyers said.

If the proposal is rejected, "that would probably put us into an extremely difficult, difficult position," said Robert N. Gillman, president and chief executive of Poly-Seal. "I hate to think of it."

On March 28, the company started taking applications for replacement workers. So far, only a few dozen replacement workers have crossed the picket lines, according to union officials.

And Mr. Gillman said the company could move to another state if the strike continues. The company has received an unsolicited offer to relocate to Dothan, Ala., where wages would be lower, he said.

Mr. Gillman said the proposal includes a seven-day-a-week operating schedule and a health plan "clearly better" than that offered by major corporations.

"We think we have negotiated and bargained in good faith," he said. "It's a package that is fair and in line with what we can do to remain competitive in the marketplace."

Mr. Meyers said he would not recommend the contract, calling the proposal little different from an offer made before the strike, which he said increased health care costs and would have disrupted workers' lives with a new work schedule.

Mr. Meyers did not know if the rest of the union's negotiating committee would recommend the contract. "I'm not going to recommend it and I have my doubts that the rest of the committee will," he said.

Workers went on strike on March 2 at company plants at the Holabird Industrial Park in Southeast Baltimore and at 8303 Pulaski Highway in Baltimore County. A third company plant on Shannon Drive in Baltimore, which has a different union, is not affected.

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