CONGRATULATIONS Jeff Rininger, 2015 TAKE THE LEAD AWARD WINNER!!
Name: Jeff Rininger
Organization: North American Hoganas
Nominator: David Hamaty
“Jeff Rininger is the Local Unit President for a 200 person union facility at our Stony Creek plant in Hollsopple, PA. Jeff's tenure at the Hollsopple Plant goes back over 30 years under three different company ownerships. Besides working as a Team Leader in our Stainless Steel melting operation he is also responsible to negotiate and administer the collective bargaining agreement between the USW and North American Hoganas. This is a large responsibility in which he has to find a common balance for both sides to come to resolution. Before providing current examples of Jeff's leadership we need to take a step back in time and create a picture of what the labor/management relations was like before new leadership came into our North American operations approximately 10 years ago . It was a time of discontent, mistrust, and aggressive behavior between Union and Management. There were grievances filed constantly and management did everything they could to suppress the union. Jeff at this time said he vowed to learn all he could to support and defend his people to fight for their rights and stand up for them. This ugly and non-productive battle between labor and management continued for years. Then in 2006, a new President/CEO was brought to North America. His leadership style demonstrated and created an environment of openness, trust and generosity. Jeff immediately recognized this in the new President/CEO and put aside the past and embraced these new values, however foreign they seemed to be at the time. Changing an organization's culture, especially in an union environment, with this type of past is not an easy endeavor. It takes the commitment from both sides and each leader's support, dedication and most importantly the ability to trust one another. Immediately, Jeff began to tell his union members that they needed to give the new leadership a chance. He supported a variety of changes that were made in the organization and in turn he saw the benefit of his actions through acts of cooperation, understanding and generosity from management.
Examples are many of his leadership through the past ten years and they continue today. Some of them are:
*Led efforts to allow union workers from another Hoganas plant in a separate local union to be transferred to our plant to work in lieu of them being laid-off. This is a first for this type of cooperation in this entire area.
*In times of recession he led efforts for the all union members to give back wages and their 401K contributions to help the company.
*Cooperated in efforts to put cameras in place to document work flow and record activity for safety reasons.
*Created an environment where there are no grievances filed. He works with management to resolve before they are put on paper.
*During contract negotiations he maintains order and compromises for the good of the overall organization.
These are just a few examples of his leadership in creating a better working environment for the 200 union members he leads. His day to day actions, problem solving and decision making speak for themselves. His leadership is exemplified by his personal characteristics and dedication. Jeff is a man who stands on values that are based on what is right and what is wrong. He exhibits the highest ethical standard and logical straight forward thinking. In conversation you can be assured that he speaks the truth and will tell you the facts. People understand this and know that he will lead them in the right direction. Not only what is in the best interest of the members but for the good of the organization. They trust and respect him for his conviction and loyalty to the union brotherhood and his ability to work cohesively at the same time with management. He is not afraid to tell his membership that they are wrong in their thinking and stands his ground on issues he firmly believes, regardless if it is well received or not by other union members. Jeff has been offered on numerous occasions a Management salaried position. He has continued to respectfully decline our offers because he believes he can do more good for everyone in his current position. A truly admirable and selfless act.
A true and valued leader, in my opinion, is a person that people listen to intently when they speak, a person that is respected, a person that possesses knowledge, a person that is truthful, a person that is ethical, a person that is trustworthy, a person that is compassionate for others and a person that is fair and considerate. Jeff exhibits all of these fine traits and more. In closing, a wise man once told me that the sign of a true leader is someone that will take people where they would not normally go on their own. Jeff has led his union brothers to a place where they have never been and they have followed without hesitation. For these reasons and more I nominate Jeff Rininger for the 2015 Take The Lead Award.