Local 900 approves three-year contract

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RUMFORD – Local 900 employees overwhelmingly approved a new three-year contract with NewPage Corp. that offers, among other things, a 2 percent pay raise during each of the next three years.

Local 900 President Gary Hemingway said the union vote was 269-111. About 800 of the mill’s 1,100 employees are eligible to vote. They are members of Local 900, United Steel Workers and AFL-CIO-CLC.

Hemingway said all changes from the previous contract to the newly approved one, except the amount of money the company will match for 401k accounts, will be retroactive to July 1.

The new contract extends through June 30, 2010.

As a member of the union’s negotiating team, Hemingway said he stayed neutral during the vote.

“It is acceptable, but it definitely should have been more, particularly with the pension and health insurance,” he said Monday.

Among the changes in the new contract is an additional dollar for each of the three years toward employee pensions, and increases in the employee share of health insurance.

Other components of the contract include a slightly higher company match for 401k plans; a requirement that although the company can change health care companies, it cannot change the amount of employee coverage; a slight increase in the safety shoe allowance; elimination of the requirement that employees must use all vacation and sick time before they can take advantage of the Family Medical Leave Act; and permission to apply safety voucher points as donations to the union’s student scholarship fund.

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