STRIKE CONTINUES: Union And AE Still Waiting

Three hundred workers from Local 120 of the Teamsters Union say they will continue to strike until a new labor agreement is reached.

Those workers have been picketing outside of Anderson Erickson’s Des Moines headquarters since late Sunday night.

Both sides say they spoke Monday attempting to get to the bargaining table in order to reach an agreement. As of 6 PM, negotiations between the two sides still had not taken place and no future meetings have been scheduled.

The previous labor agreement between the two sides ended in March.

In a new agreement, Anderson Erickson says they’re asking employees to pay part of their health care costs. It’s something that individual employees didn’t have to do in the previous contract.

Health care plans would cost individual employees between $15 and $35 each month, while family plans would cost between $45 and $105.

Kim Peter, the marketing director for AE says the change results from the rising costs of supplies, fuel, and business operations.

“These are very challenging times. In terms of running a business, we’re looking to remain competitive while still providing good jobs and benefits for our employees. Including health care and pension,” Peter told Channel 13 News.

Union Leader Mike Klootwyk says there is more to the negotiations than health care costs.

He adds that the new agreement offered by AE is “concessionary” and threatens guaranteed 40 hour work weeks for employees and includes wage freezes on top of the rising health care costs.

“I’d love to get back together and get something we can work with but they said maybe in the future. You have to do what you have to do,” Klootwyk said.

If the two sides do decide to meet and a labor agreement is reached, it would require a vote from union workers in order to be accepted. That vote is something Klootwyk says could take place immediately after negotiations.

In the meantime, Kim Peter with Anderson Erickson says that the company will continue to provide products to supermarkets using replacement workers.

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