After two days of meetings, contract negotiations between Ingredion Inc. and representatives of Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers (BCTGM) Local 100G have been suspended until early September.
The collective bargaining agreement covering approximately 160 union members at the plant expired on August 1. Workers at the plant continue to work under the terms of the expired pact while Union negotiators attempt to reach a fair new contract with Westchester, Ill.-based Ingredion, which purchased the Cedar Rapids, Ill. Penford Products facility this spring.
Union and company negotiators have held three negotiating sessions and the most recent talks came to a halt after company representatives delivered to the Union what it termed as its “last, best and final offer.”
Following the end to negotiations, on August 19 Ingredion sent a three-page letter to Local 100G members employed at the plant to outline the “attributes” of its latest proposal.
BCTGM Local 100G President Chris Eby says the letter to the union workers was nothing more than corporate propaganda that had little to do with the company’s final proposal. “The Ingredion approach at the bargaining table is to change everything about our current contract – from its layout to its language. The letter to the membership is misleading because it fails to explain the many other proposed changes. It was pure propaganda. The company proclaims its good values, yet exhibits no such values behind the closed doors of contract negotiations,” says Eby.
The Ingredion letter states, “We have a long history of operating ethically and fairly and we take seriously the values established by our leadership – safety, respect, integrity, innovation, excellence and quality.”
According to BCTGM International Vice President Jethro Head, “These are the same words attached to Ingredion’s promotional materials. This list of so-called company values might sound convincing when addressing the audience of a corporate awards ceremony, but these values are not carried into the plant or into the communities where its workers and families live.”
Meanwhile, a better show of the company’s corporate values can be found in public records. While Ingredion is trying to gut the union’s contract at the bargaining table, Chief Executive Officer Ilene Gordon is laughing all the way to the bank. In a July 2015 filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the government entity that oversees publicly traded companies in the United States, the company revealed that Gordon recently cashed out more than 33,000 shares for a value of $2.9 million.
Upon further inspection, it was discovered that on two other occasions this spring, Gordon cashed out more than 65,000 shares for payouts totaling $5.3 million. This amounts to more than $8 million in a four month period. Even with selling almost 100, 000 shares, Gordon still owns more than 550,000 shares of Ingredion. At today’s stock price of $90.00/share, she is sitting on approximately $50 million dollars in stock.
This does not take into account Gordon’s yearly compensation, which has averaged approximately $7.3 million per year in the last four years. That is nearly $30 million in compensation over the same period. Of course, this does not include Ingredion’s quarterly dividend of $0.42 per share. If there are no restrictions on Gordon’s stock ownership, her dividend payout on 550,000 shares would be $231,000. Multiply that by four quarters in a fiscal year, and she’s paid almost $1 million just for owning the stock.