Saratoga County

Union at Momentive files charges

The union at Momentive Performance Materials that represents 620 workers has filed a complaint wi


The union at Momentive Performance Materials that represents 620 workers has filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board over recent pay cuts by the company.

IUE-CWA Local 81359 filed the charge on Monday against Momentive for “failing to bargain in good faith by announcing a unilateral change to the wage structure,” which it said violates the national contract.

“Our legal department filed charges through the NLRB on our behalf. We are trying to get through the grievance process so we can stop this insanity right now,” said Dominick Patrignani, president of IUE/CWA Local 81359.

All the union can do right now is fight the pay cuts through the legal system, said Patrignani. “This [charge] was filed because they are violating our contract.”

The NLRB will start its investigation before the holidays, and the goal is to have a decision by the end of January, said Barney Horowitz, the NLRB resident officer in Albany.

Momentive Performance Materials announced Dec. 3 it was cutting the base pay for hourly workers at its Waterford plant by 25 percent or more and also said it would furlough 225 employees for as many as two weeks.

The bad news continued for workers. On Tuesday, Momentive announced it was also eliminating 15 salaried jobs at the Waterford plant as part of its restructuring plan, which includes cutting 250 positions around the world.

In a statement, the company said it is eliminating merit pay increases for 2009 for all its U.S. exempt salaried employees, suspending the company’s matching payments to the 401K savings plan and suspending its employee tuition refund program.

“As we end 2008 and look toward next year, we are facing unprecedented challenges related to the current global economic slowdown,” Jon Rich, president and CEO, said in a statement.

Patrignani said despite the pay cuts and layoffs, Momentive is still advertising that it has job openings and just added four supervisors.

He said many employees have been put on temporary furloughs, and he described the mood at the plant as terrible.

Patrignani said the union has to go through the legal system and wants to keep it civil and focused.

The company has said it plans to restructure jobs and reduce costs in its primary manufacturing areas by reducing overtime, aligning its wages to local labor market rates and creating a wider range of pay levels.

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