By Sean Rice
Workers for the asphalt division of the company formerly known as Stoneco rock quarry are hitting the street this morning, on strike.
A half-dozen members of International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 18 stood on the side of Karch Road, west of Celina, with signs declaring negotiations have failed with The Shelly Company. Shelly is a subsidiary of Old Castle Materials, which purchased the numerous plants and holdings of S.E. Johnson in May 2003, including Stoneco.
On strike are the nearly 30 members of Local 18, asphalt plant division. Only two members currently work at the Celina location, with the rest in plants in Maumee, Van Wert, Findlay, Scott, Portage and others, striking workers said. As was the scene on Karch Road, Local 18 workers at the other Shelly plants are picketing in the streets this morning.
Workers picketing outside the company told The Daily Standard that calling the situation "failed negotiations" is an understatement. There were no offers from the new company, only a "take-it-or-leave-it" deal, they said.
"There's been guys working for Stoneco for 20, 25 years, and Shelly, or Old Castle, comes in and tries to take everything away," Skip Miller, Bradford, an employee of seven years said while picketing on Karch Road this morning. After the union's contract ran out on Dec. 1, 2003, workers in the asphalt division and company ownership agreed to a four-month contract extension.
"This is not about raises or anything, we just want to keep what we got," Trev Dickinson of Van Wert said.
Miller said Old Castle Materials is a huge conglomerate based in Dublin, Ireland, that owns 80 to 85 percent of the stone plants in Ohio.
"It's just a huge company out trying to snowball the little guys," he said.
Workers said the new contract put forth by the company takes away several benefits and reduces pay. The changes call for overtime to not count until 40 hours in a week are reached, reduced mileage pay and no extra "call-in" pay. Workers currently earn overtime pay after working eight hours in a day.
"They say it's about competition, but some of our competitors in other plants in the same union make $2 per hour more," another worker said.
Strikers said there is no local manager negotiating with the asphalt workers. They only hear from the company through a Columbus lawyer, Ronald Mason. He could not be reached for comment this morning.
The Celina plant has less than 20 employees total, with workers in the rock quarry, asphalt plants, paving division and bridge division. Employment nearly doubles during the summer construction season.