Union Advises that AWI's Unreasonable Demands Will Lead to Standoff With Labor
BEVERLY, W.Va., March 18, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- More than 550 Armstrong World Industries (NYSE: AWI) workers in West Virginia rallied at a key production facility today to warn investors of labor problems that could hurt the flooring giant's 2011 recovery efforts.
"The last thing we want is a strike, but Armstrong's new management, under the direction of private equity, just continues to back our members into a corner," said Ken Hall, Teamsters International Vice President and President of Teamsters Local Union 175 in South Charleston, W. Va.
The majority of Armstrong shares are held by TPG Capital, a Texas-based private equity and venture capital firm, founded by David Bonderman. The protest comes on the heels of a warning letter sent to TPG Capital's institutional investors by C. Thomas Keegel, Teamsters General Secretary-Treasurer, detailing the potential for widespread work stoppages and product shortages at AWI.
"Armstrong is trying to double employees' health care premiums and cut benefits even though we've decreased health care costs at the Beverly plant by approximately 21 percent since 2007," Keegel said. "Our Armstrong members have shown a willingness to take on cost-saving measures when management has pointed to legitimate issues. However, in this case the company cannot justify its proposed changes."
The escalating conflict at the Beverly facility could extend to other collective bargaining agreements set to expire this year that cover approximately 1,500 Armstrong employees at six U.S. plants, creating the possibility for widespread service disruptions. Labor unions represent 59 percent of Armstrong's production and maintenance employees in the U.S.
"Despite outrageously high CEO pay and perks at Armstrong, management is seeking drastic cuts from these workers," Hall said. "If TPG wants to wage war on workers at Armstrong its going to be a rough year for its investors looking to recover lost value."
Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents more than 1.4 million hard-working men and women in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Go to www.teamster.org for more information.
SOURCE International Brotherhood of Teamsters