Workers Ratify Contract at Stern & Stern

Hornell, NY, May 4, 2017: Stern & Stern Industries has announced the ratification of its labor contract with Workers United, RRJB Local 221. The workers at Stern & Stern Industries will see pay increases, an increase in the employer contribution to their healthcare, and additional paid sick and holiday time, among other incentives. The new collective bargaining agreement expires in May of 2020.

The Stern & Stern operation dates back to 1889, as a silk weaving operation for the garment trade. It later converted to the production of industrial textiles using synthetic fibers for the aerospace, pharmaceutical, and electronics industries. In recent decades, global changes in technology have caused the Hornell operation to adopt lean management techniques and manning levels that the previous labor contracts were ill-designed to serve.

According to CEO, Peter Thornton, “This is a sophisticated workplace involving state-of-the-art equipment and processes. As the primary source provider of unique materials, our customers require us to produce to specification, on-time, every time. This new contract reflects the new environment in which we work, and the necessity for flexibility in worker staffing and performance.”

The previous contracts assumed multiple layers of workers who qualified for many jobs over their lifetimes. It concentrated on issues that no longer exist or have been minimized with leaner staffing levels. “With the active assistance of the union business representatives, we halved the bulk of the union agreement while introducing a refreshing level of flexibility into the hiring and cross-training of personnel,” said Operations Coordinator, Michael Pollizi.

Both parties were determined to achieve a balance that would sustain the business while rewarding the workers at the plant for their dedication to the operation.

“I am proud of the negotiated contract, which gives employees the raises and benefits they deserve,” says Erin Young, Union Business Representative. “It is refreshing when management and the union can come to the table thinking outside of the box. This contract and the process by which an agreement was achieved is a great model of how this can really work for everyone involved.”

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