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Some western Pennsylvania steelworkers protested against a folding camping trailer builder outside Pittsburgh’s convention center Saturday (Jan. 10) during the Original Pittsburgh RV Show.
According to WTAE TV, the workers build Coleman trailers for FTCA Inc. in Somerset, Pa. FTCA and the union have been bargaining for a new contract since last fall.
“We want to make Coleman aware of the fact that their name is being used by a company that’s involved in a labor dispute,” said Raymond Jastrzab, a United Steelworkers union member. “We’re just trying to let the public know that Coleman campers are not being made by happy campers.”
FTCA, a unit of Blackstreet Capital Management LLC, purchased the trailer manufacturing company from Fleetwood Enterprises Inc. in May. Blackstreet is a private equity fund based in Bethesda, Md.
USW Local 2632 filed unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board in November.
As reported by the Daily American, Somerset, the union claimed that during the bargaining negotiations, FTCA “unilaterally implemented its bargaining proposals” that reduced wages, eliminated pension benefits and cut health insurance benefits. Union officials claim they had not finished the negotiating process with FTCA when the company stopped and delivered a final best offer.
The only way one party can deliver a final best offer is if the two parties are at an impasse after a good-faith effort, said Jastrzab.
The charges are still under investigation, according to National Labor Relations Board Region 6 Acting Director Stanley R. Zawatski.
“The National Labor Relations Board’s obligation is to try to determine if what is alleged in the charge does in fact violate the National Labor Relations Act,” he said Friday.
There is no set time to make a decision on charges brought before the board, he said.
“We do try to complete the investigation as promptly as possible, which is better for both sides,” Zawatski said.
The union members agreed to work under the company’s “implemented contract” while awaiting the labor board’s review of the complaint. If the negotiation process is deemed unfair, a formal complaint will be issued and the case will go to a hearing before a labor board judge.
Currently, the plant employs 211 union workers, down from 600 in 2004 because of layoffs. FTCA officials have repeatedly declined to talk about the matter.