Vacumet Employees Hit The Picket Line

By: Gordon Boyd
By: Gordon Boyd

Morristown (WVLT) -- They make metalized paper packaging, for everything from trading cards, to balloons and gift wrap. However as of Saturday night almost two thirds of them, the workers at Vacumet's Morristown plant, are walking a picket line.

The workers are striking over rules on the factory floor.

"I'd rather be in there," said Dennis Trent, a Vacumet employee of 20 years, "but the words he's got in the contract.
I hate to be out here but a lot of other people are hurting worse than I am."

Trent and about 90 more Union Steelworkers insist their walkout at Vacumet, has nothing to do with money.

"The raise was good, everybody knows the insurance was going to go up, nobody fussed about that."

Other workers share his frustration.

"We're unhappy with him trying to put rules in and then changing them as he goes along," said George Williams, another Vacumet employee with more than decades of experience.

Strikers say they'd thought Vacumet's lawyers would put rights of arbitration in the second contract offer, but that didn't happen.

"Nobody wants to come in here, work 14 hours, go off, and then turn around and have to come back in," Trent said. "that's what he saying in the language."

Vacumet management hasn't said much since contract talks started, but union members say that newspaper ads, and new faces on the shop floor tell them the bosses saw a strike coming and wanted to do something about.

"We've been bumping into temporaries left and right," Williams said, "and we're trying to train them as we're going out the door."

The strikers have no delusions, they know they could be out for awhile. According to Dennis Trent a lot of his fellow workers a lot of people are going to find themselves financial starved.

"A lot of these people are going to be hurting because they are the sole providers of their family," he said.

For now, the members of the Vacumet chapter of the United Steel Workers say say they have no other choice but to strike. .

"We're here until they decide something we want," Williams said, "or until they decide they just can't run the facility without us."

Vacumet General Manager Tom Kura says he'll meet with the union's bargaining committee sometime next week, hopefully to try and resolve the differences.

Mr. Kura wouldn't get specific, but he did say the Morristown Plant will continue to fill orders using non-union and non-striking labor.


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