Cedar Rapids Union Scores Contract Victory For Workers

It has been a busy week for the Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Local 110 of Cedar Rapids.

Nearly 700 workers of the RWDSU Local 110 ratified a new contract agreement with Quaker Oats last night, narrowly avoiding a strike.

What’s more, the 500 RWDSU workers from the General Mills plant in Cedar Rapids also dodged a strike this week as they reached a tentative contract agreement with General Mills Friday morning. The worker-led committee will recommend laborers vote in favor of the agreement, which could ratified as early as next week, according to a news release from the union.

“Not a single one of our union members at General Mills ever wanted to walk out of the facility and go on strike. They were pushed to the edge by a company that has for far too long been slowly stripping away their long-held needed benefits,” said Roger Grobstich, the Vice President of the RWDSU in the release. “The fact that the company came back to the table immediately following a 99% no vote on a bad contract shows the strength of our members and the impact their work has on the company every day.”

Earlier this week, 99 percent of General Mills workers struck down the “last, best and final” contract offer from the company.

The workers then took to the streets, threatening to strike and picketing several places around the Cedar Rapids area, demanding higher pay and to hold onto their overtime and weekend pay.

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According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, union members at General Mills were holding out on agreeing to a contract until the company moved on four key things, including “wage increases that are more than marginal, overtime pay, protecting jobs against outsourcing and guaranteed benefits that can’t be changed in the middle of the contract period.”

“Our membership stood strong in the face of a strike, and I am incredibly proud of our worker-led negotiations committee’s dedication to bringing us back from the brink last night,” said Tim Sarver, a 37-plus year General Mills worker in a statement. “General Mills moved significantly away from the ‘last, best and final’ offer that would have taken away benefits we’ve had for over 30 years. Our committee unanimously recommends this contract for ratification. I am confident we will all be going to work with the peace of mind of a strong union contract soon.”

Workers at General Mills produce some well-known food brands such as Cheerios, Lucky Charms, Fruit Roll Ups and Gushers.

RWDSU workers at Quaker Oats also seemed satisfied with the deal they made with the company Thursday evening.

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Laborers there secured a four-year contract that included setting annual hourly wage increases equal to 10 percent over the four years, increased vacation days, holiday weekend protections and improvements to contract language.

“Working at Quaker Oats knowing we have a strong union contract makes my family feel secure,” said Maurice Anderson, who has worked for Quaker Oats for 18 years, in a news release. “In this contract our union has ensured workers here remain strong. We are proud to be the economic engine of our community especially at a facility that has been operating here for over a hundred years.”

Workers at the Cedar Rapids-based Quaker Oats produce most of the country’s Quaker Oats products and everyone in the facility is a union member.

“Our worker-led negotiations team secured a contract that ensures our community can thrive for years to come. We are incredibly proud of what they have done here,” said Shane Forbes, President off Local 110, said in a  release. “Workers at Quaker Oats have made the brand what it is today. In this contract the company has shown that they know that our union members have fueled their growth. Quaker Oats has shown that it’s possible to be a responsible employer in Cedar Rapids, other companies should learn from them.”

 

by Paige Godden
Posted 11/8/19

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