The 429 employees for Centralia’s largest employer are waiting to see what negotiations between their union and the management of Hubbell Power Systems-Centralia yield.
Jessie Montgomery, vice president of International Union for Electric Workers – Communication Workers of America Local 86821, which represents Hubbell’s factory workers described the groups of Hubbell employees marching up and down a block-long section of Allen Street between the galvanizing building and the office building as informational pickets.
“We just want the people on the other side of the negotiating table to be able to see and hear that more than just the union officers care about the stakes here,” Montgomery, in his seventh year as a union officer, said. “We’ve been working seven days a week, 19 days in row with two days off for several months now. There are a lot of workers here who are overworked, underpaid and feeling really disgruntled. We wanted the people on the management side of the negotiations to know that.”
The “better health care,” “better wages,” slogans on the 12 or so picketers’ signs are more than just rhetoric, Montgomery said.
“We’ve been researching wages at other area manufacturers,” he said. “The, in-the-door, starting wages for positions like forklift driver and welder do not compare with what other employers in the area are paying.”
He said it has put Hubbell at a disadvantage and its workforce is bearing the brunt of it.
Editor’s note, a Hubbell corporate spokesman has been contacted for comment but has not yet replied.
For the complete article see next week’s edition of the Centralia Fireside Guard.