Machinists forge deal with plant’s potential owners

TUKWILA — Machinists Union members who work at the former Jorgensen Forge plant in Tukwila have ratified a proposed contract with their potential new employer.

jorgstar2The vote is a key step forward as the potential new owners — CE Star Holdings – attempt to bring Jorgensen Forge out of bankruptcy, and it clears the way for the new owners to make employment offers to Jorgensen’s existing workforce.

“The best thing about this agreement is that it preserves the jobs of our members, and does it on their own terms,” said Joe Crockett, a business representative for Machinists Union District Lodge 751. “It ensures that they’ll have the protections of a union contract for the next three years, as they work to get the company back on its feet.”

Union members approved the agreement with a 67-percent “Yes” vote on Sept. 21.

The deal would not take effect until CE Star Holdings completes its purchase of the bankrupt company, and re-launches the business as Star Forge LLC. It would remain in effect until the third anniversary of Star Forge’s first day of business – presumably sometime in the fall of 2019.

The agreement establishes a wage scale similar to what union workers had under their previous contract, and provides for 2 percent wage increases after one year and 2 percent more after the second year. Those could become 3-percent increases if the company meets agreed-upon profit targets.

The agreement provides for a joint union-management committee to meet to work out details of a proposed production bonus system for the workers, and, it establishes a health and safety committee, spells out paid time off benefits and provides for a grievance and arbitration procedure.

There are more than 60 Machinists working at Jorgensen, who specialize in casting and forging very large structures used in the maritime, aerospace and petroleum exploration industries.

Workers at the plant voted to join District 751 in August 2014, and they ratified their first union contract in April 2015.

Jorgensen’s parent company — Constellation Enterprises LLC — filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in May. The owners cited a downturn in the oil and gas industry that led to fewer orders.

Originally formed in 1935 by hourly workers at the Boeing Co., District Lodge 751 of the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers now represents nearly 32,000 working men and women at 53 employers across Washington and California.

Think you’d be better off working under a union contract? Click here to talk to an IAM 751 representative about how to join the Machinists Union.

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