HEXCEL, WORKERS SETTLE STRIKE

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Union workers accepted 59-15 a Hexcel Corp. proposal to settle a strike at a Utah facility in voting Jan. 10-11. In December, the workers had rejected a similar package with seven favoring and 86 opposing.

``We met with the union and, with the assistance of a federal mediator, reached a resolution,'' said James Conzen, Hexcel director of human resources. Once the strike began Nov. 2, Hexcel hired workers to fill 25 open positions and 25 for replacement slots. All can retain their jobs.

``The company withdrew offers made after the strike began and has been aggressively hiring replacements,'' said Julie Holzer, who represents Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers International Union locals in Idaho, Utah and Arizona. The company has ``the right to permanently replace strikers and the obligation to retain replacements but not the strikers.''

Initially, Hexcel supervisors and some strike breakers continued the production of graphite fiber and preimpregnated materials at the facility in West Valley City.

With the help of a federal mediator, negotiators for Hexcel and OCAW Local 2-591 reached agreements on economic issues and contract language by mid-December, but without help from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, discussions bogged down on the terms for workers to return to work, according to Holzer.

The discord goes back to midyear. On June 24 by a 3-to-1 ratio, union members rejected a Hexcel proposal.

On June 27, Stamford, Conn.-based Hexcel acquired the composites products division of Hercules Inc. and made employment offers on company terms and conditions to 170 wage employees in Utah. Conzen said 145 accepted the offers and returned to work. The union filed for recognition, and negotiations began in August.