Nicholas Union Sign Early Pact

    ALLENDALE — Nicholas Plastics Inc. reported today that it and the 170-member UNITE Local 2563 have signed a four-year labor contract — and they did it three months ahead of schedule.

    The manufacturer of extruded and injected plastic parts for the automotive, appliance and furniture industries said the new agreement provides wage increases and other improvements to the local.

    The agreement — which 70 percent of the firm’s production and maintenance employees approved — took effect on Oct. 31 and will expire Feb. 1, 2008.

    The agreement replaces a four-year contract that was to conclude Feb. 1 of next year.

    Nicholas said union leaders and company managers began negotiations in September in order to resolve several health care issues and to preserve continuity of business for their customers.

    The parties reached agreement in five weeks, and both sides said the discussions went very smoothly.

    According to Carl Brown, executive vice president and COO of Nicholas, the parties reached a settlement that is “very reasonable” for employees and the firm.

    Brown said the contract:

    • Increases salary annually over the life of the contract, starting Nov. 1.
    • Effects health care changes by providing incentives to join one plan to obtain greater economies of scale.
    • Equalizes overtime and seniority issues.

    “We believe that we have to work with our employees to the best of our ability to survive in these very tough economic times,” Brown said. “While this contract is not as good as everyone would have wanted it to be, we are pleased to have made progress in the key areas of providing for employee wages and health care.

    “The union leadership recognized the issues we face,” he added, “and worked with us to arrive at a solution that allows us to provide improvements to our employees while taking steps to contain rapidly increasing health care costs.

    “We are particularly pleased to be able to wrap up negotiations months ahead of when the contract was set to expire.”

    Marie Cimochowicz, president of Local 2563, also described negotiations as moving smoothly. “We are pleased to have the contract wrapped up and ratified.

    “Health care issues were key to the swift completion of talks this year,” she added. “The rising cost of providing health care benefits is incredible and affects all employees and companies. We had to work together to develop the best solution for all involved.”

    Nicholas Plastics, headquartered in Allendale, has manufacturing facilities in that community and Grand Rapids, and a technical sales and design center in Troy.           

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