By BRIAN BOHNERT
SENIOR STAFF WRITER
United Auto Workers Local 533 avoided what would have been its first strike in nearly 30 years this morning after reaching a tentative agreement on a new contract with Autolite.
As of 12:20 a.m., UAW 533 President Skip Angles said the 80 members of the union would not assume their position on the picket line Friday and would instead schedule a vote on the proposed contract.
Angles, a 22-year veteran of Autolite, said he could not comment on the details of the tentative agreement and he was unsure when his membership would cast a vote.
Word on the tentative agreement came after the Review Times went to print on Friday’s edition of the paper.
Prior to the announcement of the pending contract, Angles spoke to the Review Times Thursday evening and said he and his fellow members had planned a strike if an agreement was not reached by midnight.
The union was operating under its second extension with Autolite after the most recent labor contract expired Oct. 31.
This latest extension was to expire at 11:59 p.m. Thursday.
At the time, Angles said both sides were close to a deal on several key issues, including Supplemental Unemployment Benefits and wages, but remained clearly divided on the topic of retiree healthcare.
Under the expired contract, Autolite retirees were eligible to receive healthcare via a shared, or co-premium, meaning the cost is split between retirees and the company.
Autolite, however, wanted to require its retirees to pay 100 percent of the healthcare premium in order to receive the service, Angles said.
“As anybody would realize, the cost of healthcare is extreme and out of control nowadays,” he said. “So for that burden to be laid upon a retiree with a limited or fixed income would be extreme.”
More information on the contract between UAW Local 533 and Autolite will be provided as it becomes available.