After 11 months, 'no progress' in Rotek negotiations; sides disappointed

by MIKE LESKO | REPORTER Published:

Aurora -- United Steelworkers Local 8565 members have been picketing in front of Rotek on Route 43 in Aurora for exactly 11 months. Following a Dec. 13 bargaining session, there was "really no progress" to report, according to Bill Hyslop, president of Local 8565.

"We're still at odds over a couple issues including wages," Hyslop said. "I'm frustrated at the lack of progress. I don't think either side was really happy when we left [the meeting]."

Kellie Harris, director of media and communications for ThyssenKrupp of North America, the parent firm of Rotek, said Rotek is "very disappointed" following the latest round of negotiations.

"It is disheartening after [nearly] a year that the union did not present anything significantly new in its proposal," Harris said. "We urge them to come back to the [bargaining] table to help us finally resolve the issue."

Harris said in May the union rejected a settlement offer, and Rotek began the process of hiring replacement workers if Rotek employees on the picket line did not return to their jobs. Now, that has become a sticking point in the negotiations, according to Hyslop.

He said Rotek "wants to protect the replacement workers. That's not acceptable -- for the replacement workers to be there for about six months and for them to be ahead of our members [in seniority]. [Rotek officials] said they would bring our people back as openings occurred."

Harris declined to specifically discuss negotiations, saying, "We believe negotiations should be held around the table directly between Rotek and the union.

"We appreciate the dedication and commitment of all our employees. We hope we can make more progress. We hope to protect all our employees and the company and move forward. We're extremely disappointed that the union doesn't have the same mindset."

Hyslop said no new negotiations have been scheduled. "I don't know what the next step is," he said.

Harris added, "It's in the union's hands."

The union has picketed at the site since Jan. 18.

Email: mlesko@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9400 ext. 4187

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