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Steelworkers reject Canton Corning plant contract

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CANTON — United Steelworkers Local 1026 overwhelmingly rejected a contract offer from the Corning Canton plant, but a union negotiator said he thought an agreement would be worked out soon.

“I’m cautiously optimistic we’ll get a deal without any work stoppage,” said James H. Ridgeway, north country representative of the United Steelworkers. “I think it’s a good sign we’re back to the table.”

Negotiations are scheduled for Friday and Saturday, Mr. Ridgeway said.

The sticking point for many union members was proposed changes on how overtime pay is calculated.

A policy called ghosting allowed unworked holiday and vacation days, jury duty and bereavement time to be counted in a work week for overtime purposes. Corning wants to eliminate the practice, Mr. Ridgeway said. Unlike other Corning plants, Canton included vacation time in the ghosting policy.

“Vacation makes it a substantially bigger issue,” Mr. Ridgeway said.

Union members were also leery of health insurance changes that increased possible maximum costs.

“That scares people because nobody knows what’s happening with insurance,” Mr. Ridgeway said. “The insurance is going to cost people significantly more.”

Workers had no issues with a proposed pay raise of 3 percent annually over the four-year life of the proposed contract, he said.

The Steelworkers represent about 150 workers at the Canton plant on McAdoo Road, town of DeKalb.

The Canton plant produces specialty glass that supplies material for the global semiconductor industry. The factory also started making radome, a material used in the defense industry. A product called Polarcor is also produced at the plant, in addition to glass for windows for space vehicles and other aerospace products.

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