About 250 union workers at Voith Hydro were less than a dozen votes away from a possible strike. Instead, a new contract was narrowly approved Saturday.
Employees at the West Manchester Township plant voted 107-97 to approve the new three-year contract, which took effect Sunday at midnight, said Randy Jones, business representative for Local Lodge 1400 of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers.
Jones said employees were unhappy with pay, benefits, and days off from work.
Employees get a 2 percent cash bonus for the first year, payable in November, a 2 percent wage increase next year, and a 2 percent increase the third year, Jones said.
Increases in the insurance co-pays are minimal in the first two years, but the out-of-pocket cost to employees more than triples in the third year.
The out-of-pocket maximum (for treatment not covered by insurance) is $2,500, but grows to $8,400 in the third year, he said.
Workers are also unhappy to lose a small break they typically had between Christmas and the New Year.
"The plant used to shut down between Christmas and New Year's and all days between were unpaid days off," Jones said. "Now they're scheduled work days."
Jones said a shift in management's attitude is responsible for the close vote.
"The big problem here is that almost two years ago they got rid of the management team that was here in York forever," he said. "Those guys lived in York they were from here and they treated the employees like family. The (German owners) swooped in and ... brought in whole new people to lead the division. They're not treated like family anymore, not in the employees' minds."
Company representatives could not immediately be reached for comment.