The good news: BCTGM unionized workers at the Ingredion milling plant in Cedar Rapids are just four or five negotiating proposals away from having a new agreement, more than 100 days after beginning their strike.
The bad news: They’re likely to continue striking at least through the Thanksgiving holiday.
That’s according to local union president Mike Moore, who spoke with Starting Line on Wednesday.
“Every day (the strike) goes on, I try to go down the line and tell my members to stay strong one day longer. I’m proud of them,” Moore said. “I haven’t had a person cross the line yet.”
After a months-long stalemate, and a stutter-stop after Ingredion brought armed guards to a negotiation in September, Moore said the two-day negotiations between the company and union negotiators for his 120-some members last week were “real productive.”
“We had 25 or 26 agendas that we needed to work out. We’re down to like four or five now,” he said.
Those issues, as you might imagine, are the big ones: Wages, overtime pay and vacation time were in there, along with a couple more that Moore wanted to keep quiet about until an agreement was reached.
And because they’re the big ones, Ingredion negotiators said they wanted to talk them over with company officials before moving forward — and haven’t scheduled an upcoming meeting since.
“It doesn’t sound like we’re going to meet before Thanksgiving,” Moore said. “That was kind of disappointing.”
Nevertheless, he and other union officials were working to keep spirits high even as the temperature dropped. For the last week, Moore and Hawkeye Area Labor Council director Rick Moyle have been on the hunt for ingredients for striking workers’ Thanksgiving dinners, thanks to donations that have come in from the community.
And Moore sung the praises of other union members, like the United Steelworkers and others in the Corn Council, a group of unionized workers at corn milling plants across North America. Moore said he’s had people walk the line in Cedar Rapids from as far away as Louisiana and Canada.
“People are dropping off food, coffee, donuts,” he said. “The support’s been great.”
What his members need more than anything, he said, was a paycheck again.
“I think we’re real close,” Moore said. “We may have to look at our proposals, but the company needs to back off and look at theirs. I don’t think they were expecting the fight that they got.”
by Amie Rivers
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