Officials OK new contract

BEVERLY – The noises of production could be heard at Armstrong World Industries in Beverly Monday morning, a welcome sound for those who feared one of Randolph County’s biggest employers might leave the area if a contract was not ratified by the plant’s union workers.

“We are happy that they reached an agreement and thank the company for its investment and for continuing to serve Randolph County,” Robbie Morris, executive director of the Randolph County Development Authority, said Monday. “We are proud that Armstrong is here and hope that they will remain here for years to come.”

Union officials from Teamsters Local 175 reached an agreement with Armstrong officials Sunday, just hours after the previous contract expired at midnight Saturday.

“We’re very happy with the result,” Jennifer Johnson, senior manager of corporate communication for Armstrong World Industries, said Monday in a statement to The Inter-Mountain. “We have very committed employees at Beverly, and we’re pleased we could come to an agreement.

Negotiations were a good, constructive process.”

Calls to Dana Scott, union representative for Teamsters Local 175 at the Beverly plant, were not returned by press time Monday.

An employee at Armstrong’s Beverly plant, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the three-year contract was ratified by a vote of 211-199, a 12-vote margin. He said the new contract features some major changes, including both a pay raise and the elimination of bonuses, as well as increases in insurance costs.

The employee dictated the amendments to the contract in a correspondence with The Inter-Mountain.

The employee, who has worked at the Beverly plant for 10 years, stated that all language involving employee bonuses was struck out of the contract, and the general rules regarding bonuses were erased.

The contract includes a pay raise for all employees that will begin to go into effect in March, the employee stated. Wages will be increased by $1.75 per hour on March 1, then by an additional 45 cents per hour on March 1, 2015, and 50 cents per hour on March 1, 2016. Insurance premiums will be raised by $5 per month for a single employee and $10 per month for family coverage, the employee said.

“The across-the-board pay raise is only increased by a small percentage,” the employee told The Inter-Mountain. “By eliminating the bonus program, they are also eliminating any incentive that an employee has to go above and beyond what is required.”

The employee also stated that Saturday overtime requirements were amended. The plant can require employees to work up to 24 Saturdays per year, but there are restrictions. Only six of the Saturdays can be between the months of June, July and August, while another 18 can occur whenever Armstrong chooses as long as an employee works no more than three Saturdays in a row.

The employee said the new contract is more favorable to the company than its employees.

“There seems to be a divide,” he said. “The younger generation of employees seems to be in favor of the contract. The company seems to have succeeded in dividing its employees. I think the union should have worked harder in its negotiations to better represent those employees who have been here longer.”

Armstrong’s Beverly plant employs about 750 workers and is the third-largest employer in Randolph County.

According to the company’s web site, Armstrong World Industries Inc. is a global leader in the design and manufacture of floors, ceilings and cabinets. Based in Lancaster, Pa., Armstrong World Industries was founded in 1860 and runs 32 plants in eight countries, according to its website.