Following a months-long investigation, Region 18 of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) announced that it had decided to issue a complaint charging Ingredion, Inc. with multiple violations of the National Labor Relations Act at its Cedar Rapids, Iowa facility.
Those violations include illegally engaging in “surface bargaining”– meaning engaging in a sham process of going through the motions without an intention of reaching agreement – with members of Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union (BCTGM) Local 100G members working at the Cedar Rapids facility; unlawfully declaring an impasse in negotiations; and unlawfully imposing terms and conditions of employment on members of BCTGM Local 100G. In addition to these violations of federal law, the Regional Office found that the company committed other violations of the law leading up to and during the bargaining process.
The Des Moines- (now Minneapolis) based Region 18 of the NLRB found substance to every claim made by the union in its filings. These include: restraining and coercing its employees; threatening employees with replacement if they do not agree to Employer concessions; and, misrepresenting to employees both Union and Employer bargaining positions.
Additionally, the Board cited Ingredion’s failure to bargain collectively and in good faith with BCTGM Local 100G, engaging in direct dealing with employees, refusing to timely provide and/or unreasonably delay providing relevant and necessary information requested by the Union.
BCTGM International Vice President Jethro Head, who led contract negotiations with Ingredion, Inc. on behalf of the Cedar Rapids BCTGM members said, “This employer repeatedly and consistently disregarded the law and good faith bargaining with the union.”
“It is especially disconcerting when you consider that these workers have been loyal and dedicated employees with numerous generations of families and family members working here. Ingredion purchased the plant in March of 2015 and came to town with absolutely no regard for the workforce, their skills, and their dedication to their work or this community,” added Head.
“When BCTGM Local 100G’s contract expired on July 31, 2015, Ingredion demanded more than 120 drastic contract changes, including cutting starting wages by $4.50-per-hour, gaining the ability to force employees to work 16-hour days, freezing workers’ pensions while drastically increasing health insurance costs. These demands were made all on the heels of a business year where corporate profits were up nine percent. From the very beginning of the bargaining process, they ignored proper legal protocol both at the bargaining table and in their other dealings with the union. They have exuded an arrogance at the negotiations table which is sadly quite usual these days when it comes to multi-national corporations dealing with workers in our communities. We knew we were right with respect to their disregard for the law. Our contentions regarding their past lawless approaches have now been verified, and will be prosecuted by the Labor Board.”
Former Local 100G President Chris Eby said, “We knew that they would be finally found out and that they would be required to come back to the table and engage us in good faith. We are ready to address the issues in a fair and legally appropriate forum and look forward to that happening in the near future.”
Incoming Local 100G President Seth Marling stated, “ We are pleased with the NLRB’s ruling in our favor on all charges and look forward to negotiating in good faith to resolve this dispute.”
The Ingredion Inc. plant is located at 1001 1st St SW, in Cedar Rapids and is doing business as Penford Products Company. The plant produces industrial starches and ethanol in their processes. Ingredion’s CEO, President and Chairman Ilene S. Gordon was paid nearly $8 million dollars in salary and other compensation in 2014. Ingredion has 11,000 employees at 36 locations worldwide.