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225 USW Members Awarded Backpay, Johnstown America Ordered to Recall Laid Off Workers


PITTSBURGH, May 8 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ ## The United Steelworkers (USW) today said that Arbitrator Clare McDermott this week awarded about 225 members of USW Local 2635 up to a year’s worth of lost wages and ordered Johnstown America Corp. to recall them to their jobs in accordance with their contract.

The company laid off more than half of its hourly workforce in Johnstown between April and August of 2007, despite contract language that guarantees employees with 20 or more years of service the opportunity to work or get paid at least 40 hours per week throughout the duration of the current agreement, which expires May 16, 2008.

“The award is clearly a victory for our members and their families,” said USW District 10 Director John DeFazio. “When an employer ignores our contract, we must act to enforce it.”

The USW and Johnstown America are negotiating a successor agreement to the current one.

USW Local 2635 President Denny Conahan said that the company’s efforts to drive down wages and avoid paying employees their rightful pensions has resulted in a pattern of reckless decisions by Johnstown management.

The union supports a separate lawsuit alleging that the rail freight car manufacturer illegally laid off workers in an effort to prevent them from becoming eligible for certain retirement benefits. The district court ruled in favor of the USW members, but the case in currently under appeal.

“We will not back down or go away,” Conahan said, “and until the corporate bosses start obeying the law, living up to their contractual obligations and treating us with the respect and dignity we have earned, we will keep fighting, keep winning and keep costing them money.”

The USW represents more than 850,000 workers in a wide array of industries throughout the United States and Canada.