BY KEVIN LILLY, Pharoas-Tribune business writer

The train that nearly derailed is back on track. A strike at Transco Railway Products that seemed unavoidable has been thwarted.

United Steelworkers Local 7-0007 struggled to keep their momentum going in the midst of confusion about what constitution they were to abide by. In the end, union president Mike Hall has mixed feelings about how the events of the past two weeks transpired.

“We were fighting our company, we were fighting our rep, and it got down where we were arguing with our own members because we were losing credibility.”

Hall claims Jerry Fike, the PACE negotiator in charge of the United Steelworkers Local 7-0007 contract negotiations, was playing back and forth between the PACE constitution and the Steelworkers constitution.

“I think he bit off more than he could chew thinking that we wouldn’t go on strike,” Hall said. “He didn’t want us to go on strike. The committee is not happy at all with the way the guy negotiated our contract. We feel he negotiated a good contract for the company.”

Hall said the merger between PACE and United Steelworkers is not complete until March 2006.

“You lose your credibility when you have to take three strike votes,” Hall said.

According to Hall, Fike, who was unavailable for comment, said the method of voting used to authorize the strike was done incorrectly. By PACE rules, there must be a ballot box and 20 feet of clearance for voting. Hall voted under the Steelworkers rules, which allows different methods.

“Everybody that wants to strike, stand up. Those who don’t, don’t,” Hall said he instructed union members during the second authorization meeting. That vote did not count.

According to Hall, there were five or six who didn’t want to strike. In the third vote for strike authorization that took place Nov. 11, the committee did not get the two-thirds needed.

“The company did offer us some other adjustments to our contract. It satisfied enough people, they voted it in.”

Transco started everybody back at zero on their absentee points and added an attendance bonus of $250 for each worker who makes it a year without missing a day. Health insurance costs remained the same.
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