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Workers want wages, benefits

By By MARY-ALLISON LANCASTER-Managing editor
Just weeks after Citation Corporation emerged from bankruptcy, the local 98 GMP Union at the Brewton facility officially went on strike Saturday, June 11. Members continued the strike this week, protesting in downtown in the heat, and members said they will continue to strike until their needs are met.
A news release issued by Citation headquarters said that the union rejected the company's offer for a new labor agreement following negotiations last week. Headquarter representatives also said that the company made what it "believes to be a fair and reasonable offer based on the economic situation of the industry and the financial results at the facility."
Employee Christopher Smith explained that when the company issued a new contract, they were "unfair" with what they offered.
Representatives of the approximately 144 union members scattered at various gate locations – shipping, front, maintenance and receiving gates – stood their ground with protesting signs and quietly picketed in the nearly 100 degree weather.
The contract expired at midnight on Sunday. Evelyn Johnson, a union representative standing on Main Street, said Monday afternoon the union went to the company with their demands and they were rejected. Union leaders went back to its members and received a unanimous vote to go on strike.
Johnson added that with the company's emergence out of bankruptcy, the timing of the strike was merely coincidental.
This is only the second time union members have gone on strike at Citation. In 2002, a strike lasted for three days.
Latoya Brown, who is among the employees on strike, said on Monday that she was hoping the strike wouldn't last too much longer.
In the meantime, Citation will continue to operate the plant and try to meet the needs of its customers.
In the news release, Citation headquarters said that "we believe that the action of the union was both shortsighted and not in the bet interests of anyone in the plant or the larger Brewton community."
Gordon said Tuesday afternoon that at least 100 people had crossed the picket line, while 80 had crossed the picket line on Monday.
The GMP union is an international union that is one of the oldest unions – dating back to the 1840s. The union has membership in 33 states in the United States, as well as members in Canada.
Citation Corporation is a leader in the design, development and manufacture of cast, forged and machined components for the capital and durable goods industries, including automotive and industrial markets.
Citation has approximately 5,000 employees serving 17 divisions in eight states. The company produces aluminum, steel and iron castings, steel forgings, and machined and assembled components for automobiles and light, medium and heavy trucks, off-highway construction equipment, agricultural equipment, pumps, compressors, industrial valves, machine tools, aircraft, oil tools and other durable goods.