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R.S. Owens & Co. President Responds to Union Accusations

December 12, 2011 By Kyle Richardson

Scott Siegel, president of R.S. Owens & Company, Chicago, spoke with Promo Marketing on Friday regarding last week's story about a contract dispute between the company and the Chicago Teamsters union. In a phone conversation, Siegel explained that the union's claims, published in a press release, are exaggerated and intended to increase pressure on the awards manufacturer.

"We've been trying to work things out with them, we've been bargaining in good faith, and then the union management decided to put out a press release with many exaggerations and misinformation," Siegel said. "We're still hopeful to reach a deal with the union. ... Our employees do great work and we're hoping to be able to reach an accord with them."

The union's three-year contract recently expired, and in its press release, the Chicago Teamsters claimed that R.S. Owens & Co. "denied wage increases to its workers from 2007-2011, and is proposing wage freezes for the next three years," a claim Siegel said is misleading.

"In the three-year contract that just expired, they had an opportunity in the second year and in the third year to re-open the contract," he explained. "There was a 90-day window each year to reopen the contract and re-negotiate pay increases, and they never did."

R.S. Owens & Co. manufacturers the statuettes for the Oscars and Emmys in the U.S. using union workers. However, most of the major television awards are not made by union labor but by factories in China due to the higher costs associated with unionized products. Higher wages could lead to higher product costs, which in turn could push more organizations to purchase from overseas, ultimately resulting in less work for union members. Siegel suggested that if unions were to put pressure on organizations to buy American, rather than on the manufacturers, then increased sales could support higher wages. As is, he said he was unfamiliar with any union efforts to persuade organizations to buy American-made awards.



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