Union pact helps plant’s new owners forge ahead

TUKWILA — Machinists Union members who work at Washington’s largest metal-forging company started the year with new employers, and their company has a new name.

CE Star Holdings completed its purchase of the bankrupt Jorgensen Forge Corp. on Nov. 28. The collective bargaining agreement between the new Star Forge LLC and Machinists Union District Lodge 751 took affect on that date.

jorgstar2Union members had voted on Sept. 21 to approve the agreement – a key step that allowed CE Star Holdings to complete the purchase. The three-year contract got a 67-percent yes vote.

CE Star Holdings is a group made up of entities that the former owners were indebted to.

For union members, the transition to the new ownership was almost seamless, said IAM 751 Business Rep Joe Crockett.

“There were no hiccups, no major changes,” he said. “Our members just came to work on a Monday and the new company hired them all.”

Under the terms of the new agreement, union workers will get 2-percent wage increases in November 2017 and November 2018. Those could become 3-percent increases if the company meets agreed-upon profit targets.

The agreement also provides for a joint union-management committee to work out details of a proposed production bonus system for the workers, and:

  • Establishes a joint health and safety committee;
  • Spells out paid leave benefits; and
  • Provides for a grievance and arbitration procedure.

“The best thing about this agreement is that it preserves the jobs of our members, and does it on their own terms,” Crockett said. “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.”

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.

jorgenson-forgeWorkers at the planted voted to join District 751 in August 2014, and they ratified their first union contract with the former ownership group in April 2015.

The former owners – Constellation Enterprises LLC – filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in May, citing 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 more than 31,000 working men and women at 53 employers across Washington and California.

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

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