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Steelworkers in Canton vote to accept Corning plant contract

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CANTON — After rejecting an offer last week, members of United Steelworkers Local 1026 from the Corning Canton plant overwhelmingly ratified a new contract Wednesday.

The new four-year pact takes effect immediately and includes a 3 percent raise each year, said James H. Ridgeway, north country representative of United Steelworkers.

“We don’t share exact numbers, but it passed by 2 to 1,” he said following the vote count. “Quite frankly, it’s an above-average contract.”

Compared with the first offer, Mr. Ridgeway said greater flexibility was provided regarding how workers can use vacation days.

A sticking point in the first offer was a policy called ghosting, which the plant stuck to eliminating in the contract. Ghosting allowed unworked holiday and vacation days, jury duty and bereavement time to be counted in a work week for overtime purposes. Unlike other Corning plants, Canton included vacation time in the ghosting policy.

Although the new contract changes the way overtime pay is calculated, Mr. Ridgeway said workers received other concessions that made the new contract acceptable.

“People clearly liked this offer better,” he said. “I’m very happy that it’s settled. We can now move forward with the business of making glass.”

The former agreement expired March 31, but workers have remained on the job. The union represents about 150 employees at the Canton plant on McAdoo Road where speciality glass is made for the global semiconductor industry and other applications. The factory also makes radome, a material used in the defense industry, and a product called Polarcor, in addition to glass for windows for space vehicles and other aerospace products.

“People stayed very productive. Stopping work is a last resort. Both parties lose in a stoppage,” Mr. Ridgeway said.

He credited local union officials with demonstrating “exceptional” leadership.

The plant is still planning a 16,000-square-foot expansion project for this spring, with a targeted completion date set for the fall. The addition, which will be used for working inventory and some production, may mean dozens of jobs are added, according to Joseph M. Dunning, supervisor of media relations.

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