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Strikers replaced by laid-off workers

Posted December 15, 2008

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— As area companies lay off scores of workers each week in the sluggish economy, more than 100 workers picket their employer daily as part of a five-month-long strike that has no end in sight.

The 114 members of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Local 369 walked off the job at Moncure Plywood on July 20 to protest the the number of hours they were working.

"It's been hell, to say the least. We've been through the heat, the cold, the rain, the storms," said Lewis Cameron, president of Local 369.

Another 102 non-union workers remained on the job, and Moncure Plywood hired close to 70 temporary workers to help keep the plant running, according to the striking workers. Many of the temporary workers had been laid off this year by a Siler City poultry plant, they said.

"I miss going to work and getting a paycheck every week," striking worker Virginia Smith said, adding that it gets more tempting each day to cross the picket line. "I have to pay bills, and I don't have enough money to pay bills."

The union is paying each worker $150 a week during the strike, compared with the $14.75 average hourly wage they received on the job.

Moncure Plywood spokesman Jeff Matuszak declined to comment on negotiations with the union or what caused the strike, saying only that the company wants more flexibility in worker contracts.

Matuszak said Moncure Plywood is hopeful it can reach an agreement with the union and that the company's original contract offer remains on the table.

Strikers said they won't agree to a 60-hour work week, changes in holidays and higher insurance payments.

"If you know it is wrong, you just have to stand up and fight for what's right," striker Cecil Woodard said.

Still, like Smith, Woodard said a strike isn't easy in a tough economy, especially with Christmas next week.

"It's extra hard during the holidays, not being able to get my grandkids a Christmas gift or get my wife anything," he said.

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  • RowdyFriend Dec 16, 2008

    whatusay....I disagree that American made cars self-destruct in five years, and foreign cars last 15-20 with no major defects. Yes there are exceptions, but my 2001 Chevy is doing fine at 150,000 miles. The Camry that my family owned was a lemon. And foreign cars are definitely not cheaper to maintain.

    The point is, people are misleading themselves if they still believe foreign cars are better than US brands, even if the US brands are built in Mexico or Canada. And a lot of people buy Accords because the Jones' did.

  • lorivalentine1 Dec 16, 2008

    Well I can understand forcing some one work and not paying them OT, but if you are getting paid then stop whining and find another job.. Things change get used to it. As for paying higher premiums, WAKE UP. You are lucky you have benefits at all in this economy. I am happy for the laid off workers who actually appreciate having a JOB right now. Can not say the same for thousand's of others right now across the country.

  • canesnut Dec 16, 2008

    Kudos to the company for hiring the laid off workers. I'll bet they appreciate the work, unlike the union members. I hope the company will stand strong and stand up for a free market.

  • whatusay Dec 16, 2008

    I have to pay for all my health insurance and these people are refusing to work because the company wants them to help pay theirs. I have no sympathy for the workers. But, the reason the company wants them to work 60 hours is because it is much cheaper to pay the overtime than to hire new employees and have to pay all the fringes associated with new workers.

  • Eduardo1 Dec 16, 2008

    oldrebel.....those days of our brothers-supporting-our-brothers is a pipe dream. You see some of the SCABS (brothers) now even crossing the picket lines. You do not very often see other unions support strikes. I remember over 40 years ago being on strike against EJ Korvettes in New York. We saw guys with union buttons, such as teamsters, go in to the store to shop. Union truck drivers would deliver product to the store, no honoring a legal union strike of the RCIA.

  • Eduardo1 Dec 16, 2008

    Dr.D.......I do not know if you are correct or not in your note about those strikers getting there job back. The "fill-ins" may be doing the job well enough, that they get hired at some point as the regular workforce and no longer have the status as "fill-ins". Perhaps you know more than I about the legalities in this instance. In a right to work State, if anyone walks off, it is literally as quiteing, unless they have something in their contract, that they can walk out. I saw no nothing in the news article stating if the contract is still in force, or if the walk-out is binding or non-binding. I worked most of my career in low & middle management position reg week 40 hrs, but NEVER did much less then a 55 hr week, with no OT, no extra straight time, no nothing. We did have incentive though "we got to keep our jobs"

  • oldrebel Dec 16, 2008

    Just an idea...some of you "pro-Union" people ought to take time to go down and spread a little of that "pro-Union" good will to your 'brothers & sisters' out there on that picket line. Bring them some warm drinks, some home cooked dinners, cookies would be appreciated I'm sure. In other words, if you support the Union so much, why aren't you out there with them? Or is that "support" just lip service, as usual?

  • Eduardo1 Dec 16, 2008

    Is the 60 hour work week all on straight time? Is it optional. Does NC have a State law for "normal" hours. It sounds like many of these people get to work 6o hrs, but OT after 40hrs. Are the people who WALKED-OFF in violation of their contract? If this is a right to work State, can management keep the non-union workers on and just get rid of those union workers who stay on strike, with no legal problem with the Union or EEOC?

  • tlbone56 Dec 16, 2008

    makeitright said it right!

  • Dr. Dataclerk Dec 16, 2008

    Striking for a job that has been filled.....
    familyfour

    Comment is not true. The strikers could get their job back. The people working right now are fill-ins. Get your story straight.

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