Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Teamsters Strike Over Lost Health Insurance

For Immediate Release: For More Information:
Monday, August 24, 2009 Sarah Sarah Hainds, (773) 254-7460
Cell: (773) 860-0306

Workers and their families forced to delay important medical treatment

Teamsters Local 743 union members working at SK Hand Tools voted unanimously to strike today at 3:30pm due to the company’s unilateral withdrawal of the workers’ health insurance without notice.

The U.S. National Labor Relations Board has issued an unfair labor practice complaint alleging that the company has bargained illegally by stopping health care coverage without notice.

“President Obama is leading a national debate about how to protect hard-working Americans from callous employers like SK Hand Tools,” said Teamsters Local 743 president Richard Berg. “This French-owned company has left us no choice but to strike for our basic needs, health care,” he continued.

SK Hand Tools has been making high quality metal tools in Chicago for 88 years. SK workers have been in contract negotiations for nine months. The company has been in the Teamsters union since 1968.

“We are willing to make concessions to save the company,” union steward David Biedrzycki stated, “but we can’t lose our health insurance. They expect us to pay for our health coverage out-of-pocket when they’re also asking for a 20% pay cut – we can’t afford this!” The workers’ wages have been frozen for the last six years.

The workers currently earn on average $14 per hour. The pay reduction that management is proposing includes an additional $4 cut in the first 6 months, which would lower that average to just over minimum wage. SK Hand Tools employs about 70 workers.

SK Hand Tools sells its merchandise through its website and through stores like Sears & Roebuck and Amazon.com. SK also makes some of the Sears Craftsman products.

Teamsters Local 743 represents 11,000 workers throughout the Chicagoland area working in manufacturing, health care, clerical, food service, warehouse and maintenance industries.


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