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Besser Company, United Steelworkers Local 209 Still in Gridlock Over Contract Negotiations

Last month, union members of United Steelworkers Local 209 lined the streets to raise awareness on failed contract negotiations. One month later, discussions still sit a gridlock.

Alpena — Last month, United Steelworkers Local 209 members at Besser Company lined the streets outside of the business to perform an informational picket to educate the community on failed contract negotiations. One month later, discussions still sit in gridlock.

“We’ve got to find a deal that our membership will accept and vote for,” said Phil Bilyeu, Chief Steward of United Steelworkers Local 209. “At the end of the day, that’s what we’re looking for but right now the company is not in the ballpark with the last, best final offer.”

Last week, Besser Company imposed an impasse, meaning the company has put it’s final offer on the union without allowing members to ratify the contract. If the company and union can’t come to an agreement, a strike will likely happen within the next few weeks.

“The way we look at it right now, the economy is doing great, the business is doing great, and they’re doing great under the terms of this old contract so why should we radically alter anything that we’re currently living under,” said Bilyeu. “We’re not really asking for much more than we have right now under our old contract.”

Two items have been holding up negotiations. First, senior members of the union have had their pension frozen in order to switch over to a 401k retirement plan. Bilyeu said the union is willing to negotiate on this move. The second looks at specific language geared toward union representation that many members were uncomfortable with.

In a recent vote, the union voted almost unanimously voted no to the best and final offer.

WBKB reached out to Besser Company for a comment but no phone call was returned.