Two Major Unions with OK Ties Announce Merger Plans

Article excerpt

Two major unions representing about 5,300 employees in Oklahoma announced merger plans Tuesday.

The combination of the United Steelworkers of America and PACE, the Paper, Allied Industrial, Chemical and Energy Workers International Union, will create the nation's largest industrial labor union, representing about 850,000 workers nationwide.

The United Steel Workers of America, based in Pittsburgh, represents about 3,300 workers in Oklahoma including about 1,500 at the Bridgestone Tire plant on Council Road in Oklahoma City.

PACE represents some 2,000 state workers, including about 475 at ConocoPhillips in Ponca City and 375 at Weyerhaeuser in Valliant. PACE also represents about 100 workers each at Georgia Pacific and National Gypsum in Prior.

In December, PACE reached an agreement for a five-year contract with Continental Carbon in Ponca City, where the union represents about 85 employees. The agreement came after a 3.5-year lockout, the union said.

PACE members will have greater bargaining power, because this merger creates a larger union presence in our core industries and gives us more leverage at the bargaining table, said Boyd Young, PACE president.

PACE members will have access to a $150 million defense fund so that we can take on employers who make unreasonable demands at the bargaining table, said Young. Furthermore, with an organizing budget of over $30 million per year, we will have the ability to strategically organize workers in our core industries.

The combined force will have more political clout and broader coverage of workers in the industrial sector, union officials said. The new organization will also focus on boosting membership levels, which have declined in recent years.

The name of the new union - the United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Workers International Union - would have a membership as wide-ranging as its name. …