Union workers strike at Kaydon plant Dispute centers on plan for contracting out work

November 07, 1995|By Ross Hetrick | Ross Hetrick,SUN STAFF

The union representing 277 workers at the Kaydon Corp. factory in South Baltimore went on strike Sunday night in a dispute over a proposal to give management greater power in contracting out work and closing operations without negotiating with the union.

"It was the whole issue," said Keith L. Shaffer, vice chairman of Local 1784 of the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers. "This was a movement to break the union."

The plant at Wicomico and Monroe streets, which makes piston rings and seals for trains, planes and tanks, was hit by the strike at 10:01 p.m. Sunday when the previous contract expired, Mr. Shaffer said.

Including salaried employees, the plant has about 350 workers, he said.

Kaydon, a designer and manufacturer of custom-engineered products based in Clearwater, Fla., said yesterday it intends to continue production, but at a lower level, using salaried workers.

The company, which had sales of $204.7 million last year, said it did not expect to have an "earnings shortfall" because of the strike and vowed to continue serving customers.

Mr. Shaffer said the union did not object to Kaydon's offer of a 3 percent annual pay increase during the next three years to workers, who average $14.38 an hour.

The dispute, he said, evolves around proposals to allow the company to contract out work to other companies, relocate or transfer work or equipment to other locations and "the right to close all or part of its facilities."

Such a change would give the company "the right to contract out our jobs and get rid of us," Mr. Shaffer said. The plant last was struck in 1986 over the issue of health benefits, he said.

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