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Ingersoll Rand, union extend contract

Ingersoll Rand and a union representing about 250 workers at its Cheektowaga plant have given themselves more time to try to reach a new contract.

The company and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Lodge 330 extended their deal until the start of Aug. 10, instead of expiring at the start of Monday, said Peter Cooney, IAMAW District 65 representative.

The Machinists union requested the extension to allow additional time for Blue Cross/Blue Shield to prepare health insurance rates for use in the negotiations, Cooney said. The company agreed to that request, but also asked for a federal mediator to join the bargaining, he said. The mediator will be part of the talks when they resume next week.

“We still have many things on the table,” Cooney said, citing issues such as health care costs and wages.

Misty Zelent, a spokeswoman for Ingersoll Rand in North Carolina, said talks have been underway for several weeks but otherwise declined to comment. “We have the highest respect for our employees and believe in the integrity of the discussion process,” she said.

The plant on Broadway designs and makes air and gas compressors for applications including industrial plants. Ingersoll Rand in January completed its acquisition of the Cheektowaga operation from Cameron International Corp., as part of an $850 million deal for Cameron’s centrifugal compression division.

In 2014, before the Ingersoll Rand deal was announced, Cameron laid off workers at the plant in the face of a slowdown in orders. Cooney described production as “fairly steady this year.” Some laid-off workers were called back, but about 65 workers remain on layoff, he said.

One hourly worker who asked not to be identified said workers are frustrated by what he characterized as deep cuts Ingersoll Rand is seeking from the workers. “We shouldn’t have to go backwards,” he said.

The Broadway facility was once home to Joy Manufacturing. Cooper Industries acquired Joy in 1987 and the company later changed its name to Cameron.

While Ingersoll Rand and the Machinists union try to reach a new deal, Verizon is facing a possible strike this weekend by two unions as their contract nears expiration. And Allegheny Technologies Inc., which has a plant in Lockport, and the United Steelworkers are still trying to reach a new deal, a month after their existing contract expired; the ATI employees are continuing to work under terms of the expired contract.