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Chicago maker of Oscars, Emmys owes workers vacation pay: union

The Academy Awards 'Oscar' trophy is made Chicago. | SUN-TIMES FILES

The Academy Awards "Oscar" trophy is made in Chicago. | SUN-TIMES FILES

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Updated: July 11, 2013 6:40AM

The Chicago manufacturer of the Oscars and Emmy awards has found itself in a labor dispute.

Teamsters Local 743 has accused R.S. Owens & Co. Inc. of refusing to compensate workers for nearly a year of earned vacation time.

The union charged that the company, at 5535 N. Lynch, owes about 48 current or former workers up to four and a half weeks of vacation accrued in 2012.

Company executives could not be reached for comment Sunday.

The dispute stems from the acquisition of R.S. Owens last December by St. Regis Crystal, an Indianapolis company that also operates in Canada. The deal resulted in a transfer of some work, and R.S. Owens notified the state of plans to lay off 95 employees, reportedly more than a third of its staff.

Teamsters leaders said St. Regis ultimately rehired more than 30 veteran employees. But they said vacation benefits promised by a former boss were not paid to some laid-off workers and to others who were rehired.

“Most of these employees proudly worked for R.S. Owens for more than 25 years,” said Local 743 Vice President Emma Moreno. “While the union applauds St. Regis for rehiring much of the talented work force, the company cannot cheat its workers or deny them their rights.”

St. Regis has kept the Northwest Side facility open to manufacture the Oscars, Emmys and many other awards and business gifts. R.S. Owens opened 75 years ago and is known for its design capabilities.

Local 743 said it expects to begin negotiations Wednesday with St. Regis on a new contract for the manufacturing workers.

The union said more than 50 Teamsters and supporters picketed R.S. Owens on Friday to protest the lack of vacation payouts.

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