A representative of the 120 union members on strike against the Ingredion plant in southwest Cedar Rapids said he’s hoping that negotiators from both sides of the ongoing dispute can meet for negotiations sometime next week. In a media briefing Wednesday afternoon outside the Ingredion plant, Jason Davis, a regional representative for the for the […]
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A representative of the 120 union members on strike against the Ingredion plant in southwest Cedar Rapids said he’s hoping that negotiators from both sides of the ongoing dispute can meet for negotiations sometime next week.
In a media briefing Wednesday afternoon outside the Ingredion plant, Jason Davis, a regional representative for the for the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers (BCTGM) Local 100-G union, said that whole union members voted unanimously to reject Ingredion’s “last, best and final offer” and launched their strike Aug. 1, spirits remain high, and he continues to press for a resolution to the issues that have kept the two sides “far apart.”
“I’m not going to make a public comment about ongoing negotiations, just to try to not sabotage that process,” Mr. Davis said. “But we have to sit down at the table in order to work through (our) issues, so the sign that the company is ready to come back to the table and meet in person is a good sign.”
Mr. Davis outlined a series of issues that continue to divide Ingredion and workers. Mr. Davis said Ingredion is proposing to outsource jobs for laboratory workers who test products from the plant. Ingredion is also proposing an overhaul of health benefits, including the ability to change those benefits from year to year without bargaining with the union.
Ingredion also wants to reduce the vacation time available to workers, Mr. Davis said, and there are concerns about 12-hour shifts and forced overtime. And a two-tier wage system provides differing pay rates for workers performing the same duties based on seniority, he said.
Issues between the union and the company date back to 2015, when Ingredion purchased the former Penford facility, Mr. Davis said.
Mr. Davis said there are also safety concerns with the “untrained” temporary workers brought in by Ingredion to keep the plant running during the strike.
“What we produce is a corn starch,” Mr. Davis said. “This corn starch has high explosion dangers when it’s dried to the levels that we dry it to this plant.”
Ingredion spokesperson Becca Hary provided a statement on the company’s position Aug. 8.
“The contract with the union in our Cedar Rapids facility expired on Aug. 1, 2022,” the statement reads. “To date, we have not reached an agreement and the union placed us on notice of their intention to engage in a work stoppage effective Aug. 1, 2022. Over the last two months we’ve bargained with the union in good faith on a frequent basis and provided them numerous proposals. The week of July 25, we presented the union with our ‘last, best and final’ offer, which included their feedback and numerous adjustments to our previous proposals. Our intention is to meet with the union this week and we look forward to continuing our discussions.
“Our goal has always been to provide our team members with very competitive wages and a comprehensive benefits package. While our team assumes operations of the Cedar Rapids facility, there may be temporary facility stoppages. We have enacted our business continuity plan and we are continuing to operate the facility to fulfill our customers’ orders and mitigate any impact on our operations.”
Mr. Davis said the union would prefer to see the strike resolved as soon as possible, but said workers are prepared to remain on the picket lines as long as needed.
“I’ve spent considerable hours walking and marching with our members out here,” he said. “They’re ready to go one day longer than the company is ready to go.”