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Rotek, union members disagree on root of nine-month work stoppage
United Steelworkers say it's a union-busting lockout, but the company calls it an economic strike

Kabir Bhatia
In The Region:
A nine-month work stoppage at Aurora bearing company Rotek is being called a lockout by union members -- and a strike by the company. And the two sides also disagree on what caused the strike in the first place. WKSU's Kabir Bhatia reports.
Rotek, union members disagree on root of nine-month work stoppage

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After contract negotiations failed in mid-January, more than 100 members of United Steelworkers Local 8565 said a new contract was imposed on them, and they walked. The company says it was their last, best offer, and eventually hired replacements for business-as-usual.

Sticking points include wages, holiday pay and insurance costs, which the union says would soar under the company’s new terms. But spokeswoman Kellie Harris of Rotek’s parent company, ThyssenKrupp, says the contract offer is competitive in light of the downturn in demand for the company’s wind turbine bearings.

“The only two things we’re asking are that the salary and wages align with industry standards. And the healthcare and benefits align with the other ThyssenKrupp employees at Rotek.”

Harris says the two sides were scheduled to meet September 6, but the union cancelled. Union President Bill Hyslop says they need time to review information sent by the company pertaining to insurance costs, and they plan to reschedule within the next week.
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