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Waukesha Adopts Pay-for-Skill Contract

June 29, 2012
Stainless foundry aims to develop skilled workforce, "retool the career path”"

Waukesha Foundry reports it has agreed to terms with Local 4845 of the United Steelworkers union on a new, three-year labor agreement that includes a pay-for-skill structure “that retools the career path for the company’s union workers.” The Wisconsin stainless steel foundry implemented its “Pay for Skill” program May 1, with support from the union, as a way to ensure enough skilled workers for its operation.

Other terms of the contract were not revealed.

“This contract is a modern agreement that provides significant opportunities for employees to enhance their skills, improve the value of their labor, and gain increased compensation based on career advancement,” according to USW sub-district director Bill Breihan. “It well positions the company to meet customer demand in an ever changing marketplace.”

Acknowledging a scarcity of skilled workers, the foundry indicated its goal is to attract and retain the best candidates for its workforce. Another purpose is to give hourly workers a recognizable way to increase their income by gaining certification in additional skills. “The traditional work responsibilities of having one function or skill has been replaced with employees who will be trained and certified in several areas,” according to a statement. “This gives the company the flexibility to respond to customer needs quickly while increasing productivity among employees.

Waukesha Foundry also established an apprenticeship program to train and certify maintenance mechanics. The position was defined in coordination with the USW, the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development, and Waukesha County Technical Collect. A student from the College presently is working as an apprentice under supervision of a Waukesha Foundry employee, who is certified as a journeyman.

Also, the foundry is developing an apprenticeship program for patternmaking, and the company’s human resources staff is working locally with high schools and technical colleges to attract more applicants interested in a manufacturing career.

“We expect that our Pay For Skill program will further increase our on-time delivery performance to customers and shorten lead times,” explained Waukesha Foundry president and CEO Ken Kurek.

About the Author

Robert Brooks | Content Director

Robert Brooks has been a business-to-business reporter, writer, editor, and columnist for more than 20 years, specializing in the primary metal and basic manufacturing industries. His work has covered a wide range of topics, including process technology, resource development, material selection, product design, workforce development, and industrial market strategies, among others. Currently, he specializes in subjects related to metal component and product design, development, and manufacturing — including castings, forgings, machined parts, and fabrications.

Brooks is a graduate of Kenyon College (B.A. English, Political Science) and Emory University (M.A. English.)