Rotek employees 'forced out,' union says; picketing begins

by Tim Troglen | reporter Published:

Aurora -- About 120 members of United Steelworkers Local 8565 employed at Rotek Inc. went on strike Jan. 18, according to a company spokeswoman.

Several picketers carrying signs appeared in front of the company Jan. 18, and were still there as of Jan. 21.

Two security guards also were seen at the front gate of the premises on the morning of Jan. 21.

"Members of the United Steelworkers Local Union 8565 at the Aurora facility have elected to strike beginning Jan. 18," according to Rotek's Kellie Harris. The plant is located at 1400 S. Chillicothe Road. "Product shipments will continue on schedule as the company continues discussions with union representatives," she added.

However, Bill Hyslop, president of Local 8565, said Jan. 18, "We are not on strike, we were forced out."

Contract negotiations were declared at an "impasse" by the company and instead of taking a forced concessionary contract which includes a 20 percent to 30 percent pay cut, the membership walked out, Hyslop said.

The contract expired Nov. 1 and the sides have been negotiating since October, he said.

"We offered to continue negotiating under the current contract and take a [salary] freeze," he said.

The company is not planning to bring in "new labor" to meet "commitments to our customers," Harris said.

"We are disappointed that approximately 120 members of the United Steelworkers Local Union 8565 have elected to conduct a strike," Harris said.

"We look forward to resuming normal operations as soon as possible," Harris added. "Rotek has a business continuation plan in place to meet our commitment to our customers -- this is a matter of responsible management."

On Jan. 13, 11 employees were sent home because of what a company representative called a "miscommunication" with a new security firm.

However, some employees claimed it was a "lockout."

Rotek Inc. is a manufacturer of machine elements called slewing bearings, according to the company's website. It employs 300 people.

Email: ttroglen@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9400 ext. 4183

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