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MeadWestvaco and Union Ratify New Contract for Low Moor Facility
Low Moor, Virginia, USA, 23 July 2008 -- /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- United Steelworkers (USW) Local 8-490 members at the MeadWestvaco converting and services facility in Low Moor, Virginia., ratified a four-year agreement this week by a 70% margin.

The contract, which covers 154 production employees, features pension and wage increases, maintains the existing health care benefit package, lowers the percentage of premiums paid by workers, reduces certain retiree health care premium costs, and substantially improves the allowance for safety shoes. The defined benefit pension was increased USD 4 per year of service and is retroactive to 01 April 2008.

Ray Plasters, USW Local 8-490 president, said despite negotiations taking longer than expected, workers were able to get a good contract that met the needs of themselves and their families. Workers will receive a USD 2000 lump sum payment, a 2% immediate wage increase, and additional 2.25% wage increases effective 31 August 2009 and 30 August 2010.
Under the old contract, employees contributed 25% of the cost of health care premiums. This was reduced to 20%, however, with some changes in the benefit reimbursement rates. Benefit levels are assured should the plan administrator change. If the USW and MeadWestvaco reach an agreement on a better health care plan, the Low Moor facility has the option to participate in it.

Previously, MeadWestvaco was making a USD 50-100 per month contribution toward retiree health care premiums. For retirees between ages 62 and 65 years, and approved disability retirees, the company and the retirees will now split the cost of the premiums 50/50. This can mean a USD 4000-11,000 annual savings for retirees, depending on the coverage they elect.

The safety shoe allowance increases by USD 40 per year in December 2008, and it increases an additional USD 10 in December 2010.

A number of contract language changes were adopted that provide more member protection and streamline the administration of company policies and procedures.

The USW is the largest industrial union in North America and represents more than 1.2 million members and retirees in the paper, steel, oil, chemical, metals, rubber, glass, and service sectors.

Source: United Steelworkers (USW)

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