PTI Labor Research
 
 
  Power Through Information  
 
 


Latest News - April 2012

April 24, 2012
Strike hits 1-year mark
Source: MySA.com
By: Patrick Danne

1 year As a strike by warehouse and production workers at San Antonio food manufacturer C.H. Guenther & Son Inc. reaches its one-anniversary today, both sides remain resolute in not giving in.

It's been about three weeks since company management and Teamsters Local 657 officials spoke with each other and more than six months since they met at the negotiating table.

Unionized mill workers went on strike last April 25, seeking higher wages to offset costlier medical coverage that was set to kick in this year.

“Our position is unchanged,” said Steve Phillips, a senior vice president for Guenther, known for its Pioneer brand of flour and pancake, gravy and biscuit mixes. “The company still feels we had, at that time, made them a very fair offer. The employees basically didn't want to accept that. They voted to strike, and here we are, unfortunately, a year later.”

About 80 workers are on strike, according to the union, down from an estimated 90 six months ago. Some have either found new jobs or retired. Guenther has hired replacement workers.

“Our guys want to go back to work with a fair deal,” said Frank Perkins, president of Teamsters Local 657. The deal “wasn't fair six months ago, and it was not fair 12 months ago. The company's ... trying to bust the union.”

Today, to mark the anniversary, the union plans to host a rally and luncheon on property adjacent to the Guenther mill.

This week, a few striking workers picketed outside the mill's front gate near South Alamo and Probandt streets, as they have done since the strike started. Drivers passing by would occasionally honk their car horns in an apparent sign of support for the strikers.

Among the picketers was Salvador Garay, 51, a packaging-machine operator who has worked at the mill for about 29 years. He reflected on what the past year has been like without a paycheck from Guenther.

“For me, it's been hell, especially right now, knowing my children don't have (health) insurance,” he said. “Whenever they got sick, I couldn't afford to take them to the doctor.”

Garay has two daughters, 10 and 17. The family receives some support from Garay's son, who is in the Air Force. Garay's wife is unable to work because of health issues.

Guenther and the warehouse and production workers entered into a three-year contract in April 2010. But under the terms of the contract, the agreement was reopened last April to negotiate wages and benefits over the final two years of the deal.

Guenther offered a 50-cents-an-hour increase in wages effective May 1, 2011, which would have increased wages to $14.96 an hour. Workers received a 40-cents-an-hour increase in the contract's first year. There was no wage increase for the third year.

At the same time, the company proposed more than tripling premiums for family medical coverage to $35 a week from $11 a week starting Jan. 1 of this year. But benefits were increased, Phillips said, to comply with provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the health care reform legislation.

“This is going to cost a lot more money, and this dispute is about how much each party is willing to pay for that,” Phillips said.

The higher premiums mean workers would see $4 less each week in their paycheck, with the 50-cents raises included.

Asked if the strike has been effective, striker Tony Diaz, 53, said, “Not as effective as I would like. (But) I don't think Pioneer is faring as well as they would have us believe.”

Phillips responded that the strike's impact was felt early on by the company while it trained replacement workers.

“So there was a big learning curve on the front end of this, for sure, but things have pretty well settled down,” he said.

 

 

 


Latest News

CampaignWebsites
Deliver your message anywhere, anytime.
Campaign Websites reinforce your campaign message in a format that preserves employee anonymity

More...

Union Awareness Program
PTI Labor Research has been obtaining and analyzing union activity and petitions for over 20 years. We have the largest and most extensive research data in the country which has been utilized by thousands of companies, labor lawyers and consultants.
More...

 

 
 
About Us          |          Services          |          News          |          Clients          |          FAQ          |          Contact Us

© 2009 PTI Labor Research. All Rights Reserved