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Union workers reach tentative deal with Ingredion Cedar Rapids, potentially ending monthslong strike
Union likely to vote this weekend on ratifying contract, presidents says
CEDAR RAPIDS — Union workers have tentatively struck a deal with Ingredion officials that may soon bring an end to its monthslong strike against the company’s Cedar Rapids facility, the union president said Thursday.
Mike Moore, the principal and president of Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union Local 100G, said he and his committee are reviewing the tentative agreement “with a fine-toothed comb.”
“If everything pans out, we will get it to our members hopefully within the next 24 hours,” Moore said.
If that is successful, Moore said he plans to send the contract to a vote on Sunday at Teamsters Hall, where 105 union members could opt to ratify the contract. That would bring an end to the strike that began Aug. 1.
Earlier this month, four sticking points remained:
- A proposed schedule change for the maintenance department.
- Pay scale for paid time off.
- Requirements for workers to learn an additional job.
- An amnesty clause to protect striking workers from discipline.
“It’s a big relief off my shoulders and off my committee’s shoulders,” Moore said.
Moore said in the coming weeks, he hopes the union workers can all take a breath and gather their thoughts.
He said some members on the picket line have families and had to make ends meet during the strike, so they had to find other jobs to get by. It remains to be seen whether they stay in those jobs or return, Moore said, but he hopes those workers come back.
“My main goal is to get everybody back to work,” Moore said. “ … We went out as one, we go back in as one.”
Becca Hary, Ingredion corporate communications director, said in a statement that Ingredion is pleased to have reached a tentative four-year contract with union workers at its Cedar Rapids manufacturing facility.
“From the very start of these negotiations, our number one priority has been reaching an agreement that provides very competitive wages, comprehensive benefits and enhanced conditions for our people to ensure the successful operation of our facility and our continued vital role in the community,” Hary wrote. “We are hopeful that our employees will vote to ratify this contract and return to work.”
Cedar Rapids Mayor Tiffany O’Donnell said arriving to a tentative agreement must be a relief to workers who’ve been striking for more than 20 weeks.
“Ingredion is an important part of our community, as are its loyal and dedicated workers,” O’Donnell said. “It’s my hope that we can all put this behind us and support the company and the teams as they get back to work.”
In a September guest column to The Gazette, the nine-member Cedar Rapids City Council wrote “there are no winners in a protracted labor strike” and encouraged the union and company to “sit down together and bargain in good faith.”
“As a city, we did our best to support efforts to bring both parties together, recognizing that they are both important and valued members of our community,” O’Donnell said. “This is a relief for us, and I can’t imagine how much of a relief it is to those who haven’t had a paycheck for weeks.”
State Rep. Sami Scheetz, D-Cedar Rapids, said in a tweet that he stands in solidarity with the workers.
“If this agreement is fair for the workers involved + the contract is approved, this is great news!” Scheetz wrote.
The strike has garnered national attention. U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., has weighed in and criticized James Zallie, the chief executive officer of the Westchester, Ill.-based company.
I support @BCTGM Ingredion workers in their 20th week on strike in Cedar Rapids. If Ingredion can return $250 million this year to shareholders and pay its CEO $10 million last year, it can afford a fair contract that does not increase health costs, decrease wages, or cut jobs.— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) December 27, 2022
In a Jan. 13 letter to Zallie, Sanders urged Ingredion officials to bargain in good faith with the workers as the strike stretched beyond 23 weeks.
Senator @BernieSanders CALLS @Ingredion TO ACTION— BCTGM International (@BCTGM) January 13, 2023
🗣 https://t.co/zwVPx8tkCr | #ingredionstrike pic.twitter.com/XXp6v4hw1a
“The time has come for Ingredion to bargain in good faith, and offer a contract that is fair and that is just, instead of trying to discipline or even fire striking workers for exercising their constitutional right to strike,” Sanders wrote.
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