LIMA — One day after facing criticism that Husky Energy was not devoting enough consideration to family issues in a contract proposal, its corporate spokesman challenged that notion.
“It should not be overlooked that the company is offering substantial pay raises, increases in retirement benefits, and no changes to health care. These represent tremendous gains for employees in a down economy — gains that almost no other employer in this area is offering,” Husky spokesman Mel Duvall said in a written statement Saturday.
United Steel Workers union Local 624 President Mike Edelbrock said Duvall is stretching the truth. He said wage increases are no greater than any other refiners across the country and there has been no enhancement to retirement.
“They are not going above and beyond,” Edelbrock said.
Duvall said Husky has made fair offers on the issue that center on time off work.
Duvall said Husky has agreed to six shift trades a year but Edelbrock said this is a big sticking point. During the first two years after Husky took over, employees were allowed to trade shifts, which is popular because it allows parents to see their children play sports and things but does not cost the company in any way.
Duvall said Husky has reduced restrictions on shift trades and 98 percent of shift trades are approved but Edelbrock said Duvall is playing with the numbers. He said the 98 percent number is based on the shift trades that meet Husky’s strict parameters not actual shift trades workers want to make.
“It’s been festering since 2009, these issues and restrictions on the family,” Edelbrock said.
Duvall said Husky has increased the number of short-notice vacations, which is requesting vacation time with less than one week’s notice. Edelbrock said there has not been an increase.
Duvall said Husky has increased the number of people allowed off at a time but Edelbrock said it’s only one person throughout the seven total units. What is not being said is Husky has placed parameters that are so restrictive it’s very hard for a person to be off, Edelbrock said.
Duvall said Husky has increased the amount of vacation time that can be carried over into the next year or sold. Edelbrock said Husky has increased it from one week to two but added that does not address the bigger issue, which is up until 2009, two years after Husky purchased the refinery, employees could carry over five weeks.
“He’s hypocritical when he’s saying we’re giving you more when we used to have five weeks,” Edelbrock said.
Duvall said Husky just wants employees back to work. He said Husky has listened to union concerns and made fair offers.
Ultimately, the more than 200 employees of the union will have the final say on whether to approve the contract. They are voting today. Union leadership is recommending a "no" vote on the proposed contract.