Cedar Rapids, Iowa – Members of BCTGM Local 100G continue their fight for a fair new contract with Ingredion, Inc., the Westchester, Ill.-based company that purchased the Penford Products facility this spring. The collective bargaining agreement covering approximately 160 union members at the plant expired on August 1.
The BCTGM has filed Unfair Labor Practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region 18 Office in Des Moines regarding the company’s unethical behavior before and during the current contract negotiations.
According to Chis Eby, BCTGM Local 100G President and member of the Union negotiating committee, in the weeks leading up to contract talks, management at the plant utilized scare tactics, intimidation and coercion against the workers which further disrupted progress at the bargaining table once contract negotiations began.
Ingredion negotiators proposed more than 120 concessionary changes to the collective bargaining agreement during contract negotiations. “This company has exhibited nothing but contempt for the negotiating process as well as total disrespect for the Union and its members – workers who have devoted their lives to this facility,” says Eby. “These are skilled and dedicated workers who come to work every day ready to do a good job and deserve to work under a fair collective bargaining agreement,” he adds.
Prior to the start of negotiations between the Union and Ingredion, the company brought unknown workers into the plant to “shadow” long-term employees as they performed their jobs. Additional cases of unfamiliar management or replacement workers running equipment was reported by union members, which is in violation of the Collective Bargaining Agreement.
Rich Heath, a Local 100G member who has worked at the Penford Products plant for 11 years, says he feels the company went above and beyond efforts to scare the workers into accepting its unfair contract terms. “It seemed clear that the company brought in these folks to intimidate us. The company also transported trailers and cots onto the property as threatening evidence of their plan to use replacement workers. We did not deserve this type of treatment. All we want is a new contract that is fair,” adds Heath.
Ingredion won the 2015 Ethisphere Institute Award and was honored for being the most ethical company in the area of Food and Beverage and touts on its website its commitment to ethical practices under Commercial, Labor and Governmental Relations stating, “Relationships with customers, suppliers, competitors, employees, labor organizations and governmental bodies are to be based on fair dealing; fair competition in quality, price and service; compliance with applicable laws and regulations. Fair dealing means that no unfair advantage is taken through manipulation, concealment or misrepresentation of material facts; abuse of confidential information or like practices.”
BCTGM International Vice President Jethro Head notes the irony of the award saying, “Ingredion left its ethical certificate, policies and practices outside the gate here in Cedar Rapids. We would welcome the company to put these so-called high standards of excellence into action. If Ingredion had abided by an ethical code from the beginning, we would have already made substantial progress on a fair new collective bargaining agreement.”
Members of BCTGM Local 100G have voted to authorize a strike but continue to work under the terms of the collective bargaining agreement that expired on August 1.