Contract Vote Results in Employee Strike

Employees of one of the largest businesses in East Texas, vote no to a contract and now face a possible strike.

The 16-hundred employees of Trane have voted to reject the company's contract presented Thursday and will go on strike. Thursday afternoon, the cars of Trane employees lined highway 110 going into Whitehouse. They came to the high school to cast their ballots and decide whether or not to accept a new contract. A contract that they ultimately found unsuitable.

Cyndi Duncan, a Trane employee said, "Sometimes you've just got to do what you have to do, and I feel that's basically what we've done. We know that times are uncertain, but you have to stand up for yourself."

Employees' concerns over salary increases and insurance costs led to the contract being rejected by 55% of the union voters. The current contract runs out Friday at midnight. Trane employees aren't looking forward to the strike, but feel it's an important step.

"It could have went either way, I was ready for both ways. I would have liked to resolve this the other way and keep working and not miss no work time, but like I said, sometimes things don't work out like we want to", Mike Cooks said.

This is the first strike at Trane since 1969, and some employees remember that strike well.

"'69 wasn't bad, you could find a job on every corner, every service station. I think I had seven during that three month period. It'd be rougher now. I'm too old to flip burgers, Gerald Cooper, said.

So for now, Trane employees continue their jobs, waiting on their current deal to run out. The next step won't be on the manufacturing line. It will be on the picket line.

One of the main problems employees had with the contract was yearly salary increases. Employees wanted a three dollar raise over the four year contract, Trane offered $1.85. Just to put this in perspective, Trane is a big employer in Tyler. Tom Mullins with the Economic Development Council told us, Trane is definitely in the top three, in terms of number of people employed in the city.

And they're number one when it comes to companies that ship products outside the state and the country. Again, the current contract at Trane runs out at midnight Friday.