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Stalemate Keeps Workers Locked Out Of Plant

Last updated on Tuesday, September 13, 2011

(SHOALS) - The lockout at the National Gypsum plant and mine in Shoals is expected to continue.

The main sticking point in the impasse is the worker's retirement package being offered by the company.

In a statement, United Steelworkers spokesman Jim Robinson says workers are not willing to give away their children's and grand children's right to a secure retirement.

A company spokesperson says National Gypsum wants workers who are 39 and younger in age to participate in a 401k-type plan. She says all salaried employees, at all National Gypsum locations across the country, participate in the 401k plan which is portable, meaning the money goes with the employee if they leave the company.

However, the union wants the company to keep its traditional pension plan for all employees. The latest offer from the company would allow workers 40 and older to remain on the pension plan.

Robinson says replacing the pension plan with a 401(k) plan with a non-binding employer match undermines an essential cornerstone of the middle class existence which he says is the right to retire in dignity after delivering to an employer a career of loyal and productive work.

National Gypsum is one of the largest gypsum wallboard producers in the United States. It operates 17 wallboard production plants and eight gypsum mines and quarries.

The Shoals plant and mine have been in production since 1956. It employs 99 workers, 82 of which are union workers affected by the lockout.

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