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UPDATED: Labor union picket at Kennametal demanding fair contract, negotiations

  • Members of United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of American Local 274 and their supporters picket outside Kennametal in Greenfield on Thursday. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • Members of United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of American Local 274 and their supporters picket outside Kennametal in Greenfield on Thursday. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • Members of United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of American Local 274 and their supporters picket outside Kennametal in Greenfield on Thursday. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • Members of United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of American Local 274 and their supporters picket outside Kennametal in Greenfield on Thursday. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz—Paul Franz

  • United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America, Local 274, rallied with other labor unions and community groups in front of the factory on Thursday afternoon. Recorder Staff/Aviva Luttrell



Recorder Staff
Thursday, May 11, 2017

GREENFIELD — The message from local labor union members to Kennametal Corp. on Thursday was clear — they want good wages, affordable health care and a fair contract — and they want it now.

United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America, Local 274, rallied with other local labor unions and community groups outside of Kennametal’s factory on Sanderson Street Thursday afternoon to demand that the company engage in good faith negotiations and settle a fair contract with all due speed.

About 60 people participated in the picket, chanting and holding signs that read, “Equal benefits & equal wages,” “An injury to one is an injury to all,” and “Stop corporate greed,” among others. Attendees included members of the Massachusetts Nurses Association, which is currently in contract negotiations with Baystate Franklin Medical Center, Western Mass. Jobs with Justice, Franklin County Continuing the Political Revolution, and others.

Christina Sutter, spokeswoman for Kennametal, said the company respects the right of the union and its members to communicate their position regarding bargaining through informational picketing as long as it does not interfere with operations.

“Kennametal has bargained in good faith and negotiations are continuing. We remain hopeful that a new collective bargaining agreement will be reached soon,” she said.

Kennametal manufactures tools and industrial materials, and is based in Pittsburgh, Pa.

Chad McGinnis, international representative for EU 274, said the union has filed an Unfair Labor Practice complaint alleging that Kennametal failed to engage in good faith negotiations. He said the company’s last offer failed to address many of the union’s key concerns, demanded concessions from the union, included steep health insurance premium hikes and did not offer adequate wage increases.

“Taking on a fight like this is how we get benefits, how we get health care, how we get on-the-job safety, how we get the things that so many people out there take for granted every single day,” said state Rep. Paul Mark, who participated in the picket. “In this political climate, in the world today where we’re talking about losing health care all around the country, I applaud you, I applaud this union for being willing to stand strong.”

Thursday’s rally was the sixth time the union has picketed Kennametal.

“It has had an impact so far and we’re hoping that this sends a real message to the corporation that they need to engage in good faith bargaining with us and negotiate a contract in good faith,” McGinnis said.

He said the company’s 74 workers that are represented by the union have made substantial sacrifices over the past few years, and deserve fair compensation.

In 2010, he said workers got pushed into a contract they didn’t want, which included a two-tiered system that pays new hires less than other employees and gives them one sick day per year and different vacation schedules.

David Deskavich, who has worked at Kennametal or its predecessor companies for 39 years, said he hasn’t received a raise in eight years.

“The cost of living goes up and it’s pretty sad. We just want a fair wage increase and we’re not asking a lot,” he said.

McGinnis said the union also found that Kennametal’s new CEO Ronald DeFeo, who was hired last year, was awarded a compensation package that, between salary, bonuses and stocks, was worth up to $5,550,000 as reported by the company in an SEC filing.

He added that the quality of workers’ contracts have wide-reaching effects throughout the entire community.

“The union workers here have a key place in driving the Greenfield economy,” he said. The wages we make support local businesses, the benefits we make support local health care.”