June 2010

New York Lighting Fixture Plant Expands Despite Hard Economy
index.html Home    Print    Email

Go to www.ibew.org

With more stories than can possibly be told about the outsourcing of U.S. manufacturing, isn't it time for a tale about "in-sourcing," a company expanding its work force and profitability and even gushing about its relationship with the IBEW?

That's the improbable story of Selux Corp., a high-end commercial lighting manufacturer north of New York City that opened its doors in 1983 with a skeleton crew—assembling parts made elsewhere into fixtures—and is now completing its third expansion of facilities and people.

"We have a pretty good relationship," says Joe Till, shop steward, New City, N.Y., Local 363. "When information needs to come down, the company's president, Veit Mueller, has no qualms about calling us all together and opening up." Till began as an assembler at Selux in 1992 and now works in the machine shop.

A May 2 story in the Poughkeepsie Journal reports on an April party at Selux where Mueller told local officials and other guests that his company's 20 percent average annual growth rate and sales of more than $30 million in 2009 were achieved by "our union labor force [who] are your neighbors."

Till, who was one of only 20 workers in 1992, including salesmen and engineers, says that the steady growth to nearly 100 bargaining unit members was due to a "lot of hard work," and to a company president who is "personally involved" in selling the plant's products.

A large export order, coupled with some smaller ones, has helped Selux weather economic hardships that have left 10 percent of workers in surrounding Ulster County unemployed. Selux supplies private and public sector customers—including stadiums and news organizations—with outside and inside lighting. The company is now concentrating on marketing solar-powered lamps.

Directly after its founding, Selux recognized Local 363, which represents employees at a vast majority of lighting manufacturers in the Hudson Valley and has a reputation for being fair with employers and providing outstanding advocacy for members.

Signing a collective bargaining agreement with Local 363 gave the company the opportunity to apply the IBEW union label on their fixtures. This is especially important in marketing products in New York City, where Local 3 has, for generations, promoted the quality of union-made, domestically-produced electrical supplies. Selux says that 85 percent of its materials are sourced from the U.S. and Canada.

"When business is good, Selux reciprocates in bargaining. They are one of the most progressive employers in the Hudson Valley region," says Local 363 Business Agent Sam Fratto. "There are now many longtime IBEW members who work at the plant under a great contract who would certainly certify that the IBEW and Local 363 is the way to go when choosing a union to represent you."

New City, N.Y., Local 363 member Oliverio Espinosa removes a part from the line at Selux.