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Supplier Tangled In Labor Dispute
Vol. 874 
December 8, 2011

Industry supplier R.S. Owens (asi/77530) will likely need to engage in federal mediation as it tries to negotiate a new contract with the 50 union workers that manufacture its products, including the famous Academy Award statuettes. Knowledge of a snag in negotiations became public on Tuesday when Chicago Teamsters' representatives released a statement in advance of an annual Hollywood documentary that profiles the making of the Oscars. "From the Screen Actors Guild to the Directors Guild of America, most celebrities who get an Oscar are in a union themselves," said Donnie Von Moore, president of Teamsters Local 743. "They know how crucial unions are to protecting livelihood. What the workers at R.S. Owens need now is union support."

In a press release, the Teamsters said R.S. Owens is seeking "to reduce vacation benefits for the majority of its workers, increase health care costs and cut wages for family medical leave." Following the Teamsters' statement, R.S. Owens responded in an exclusive interview with Counselor yesterday. "The Teamsters' press release is full of misinformation," said Scott Siegel, president of R.S. Owens. "They're just doing all this to get leverage in negotiations with us."

Siegel also told Counselor that the union has consistently balked at "pay for performance" increases and instead is demanding wage hikes across the board. Further, Siegel says the union had two separate 90-day windows in its most recent three-year agreement with R.S Owens to re-open the contract and negotiate pay increases and didn't act. "They failed to do that and I think that was gross negligence on their part," he said. "Their actions are inhibiting negotiations and it's counterproductive."

According to the union, R.S. Owens has increased its revenues this year to $31 million, but Siegel took issue with that number. "Our sales are up from 2010," he said, "but what they said in that release is another example of misinformation." Overall, R.S. Owens employs approximately 100 people, half tasked with manufacturing. The remaining 50 employees are not part of the dispute. Siegel says his company intends to continue to actively negotiate, but he agrees with union officials that federal involvement will eventually be needed.

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