All of the Brighton employees originally hired by Enerfab in December of 2002 joined the Boilermaker Union at the completion of our probation in March of 2003. We all attended the meeting of Local 106 to be sworn in. This was held in a large empty lodge near the Spring Grove plant. We were practically the only ones there, except for the officers, and our joining the union was the leading business of the day. I have only been back to that lodge 2 times, to vote on contracts. The last 2 contracts were voted on in the break room at our Sharonville plant. The officer elections were held there, also.
That seem strange to me, to hold union business on company property. I was an officer in our Steelworker local for 7 years, and we would never consider doing this. There could easily be a bug, or even a camera, hidden in our break room. But I don’t believe the company cared enough to do this. They got along with the union too well. I have not heard of a grievance being filed by the union against the company during the 13 years I worked there. And there was never mention of a strike. The union will negotiate a new contract with the company long after the old one has expired. We would work for months under the old contract. But when the new one was voted in, the company always backpaid the employees what is owed them under the new contract. The union officers stressed that no one wins with a strike. I’m just not used to the company and union getting along so well together.
Having said that, I need to stress that the Boilermakers Union has treated me very well. The union pension, which the company has contributed to and has been maintained by the union, is very generous. This in a time when nearly all pensions have been discontinued. Now that I am retired I am enjoying the fruits of this. Thank you Boilermakers.
The union committeeman at our shop in Sharonville was Joe L. Later on Clint M. took over the position. Just before I retired at the end of 2016 Joe took job over. They all were capable, but perhaps Joe L. had the worst of it. There were a lot of tensions between the Brighton employees and the Enerfab employees that first year. They had seniority over us, but weren’t nearly as skilled as we were. One of Joe L.’s favorite sayings was, “I know! I know!”, when one of our press operators tried to show him something about one of our presses he was trying to run. Obviously he didn’t know, but he didn’t want to admit it. On the other hand, many of us felt uncomfortable sharing our knowledge with people with more seniority than us, because if it came to a layoff we would go out the door before they would. In the usual order of things, when you train a new employee, he will be laid off before you, if that becomes necessary. This situation upended the usual order of things.
But by the end of 2003 work was picking up. Although the sales force remained in the offices on Spring Grove, the rest of the office people returned to Sharonville. Mark L. moved back here, Bruce K. was back to being foreman here, Rick S. was back as quality control. Brighton was calling more people back to work. Including Ron H. The old flanger operator who had declined to be hired by Enerfab back in December of 2002 came back as a new hire a year later. He lost his vacation time, and had to go onto second shift. But he didn’t work that much longer, anyway. I can’t remember exactly when, but he retired sometime before 2010.
Everybody seemed to settle down by 2004. The Enerfab employees most upset by the situation had either quit or retired or transferred back to Spring Grove. The others we eventually helped when they needed help. We had not taken their jobs, as they had feared we would. And Enerfab, and the Bolermakers, had treated us well. As Mark L. kept stressing, we were one company now, and needed to get along. And we have.