Belshaw workers ratify deal, end long strike

Belshaw workers celebrate the contract ratification vote on Wednesday, Oct. 2.

Belshaw workers celebrate the contract ratification vote on Wednesday, Oct. 2.

AUBURN, Wash. (Oct. 4, 2013) — Closing the books on a 196-day strike, International Association of Machinists District 160 announced Wednesday night that IAM Local 79 members at Belshaw Adamatic Bakery Group had overwhelmingly approved the company’s last offer, which included the last key provision the union had sought: All of the union members would go back to work and the “permanent” replacement workers would be dismissed, as well as safeguards on temporary employees and outsourcing.

Since March 24, IAM members have been out on strike at Belshaw on issues that initially revolved around wages, health and welfare, and pension.

IAM District 160 sent the following statement to The Stand:

Throughout the more than six-month ordeal, Local 79 got a good coverage from the labor press, including the national AFL-CIO and the global union IndustriALL, and an outpouring of messages of solidarity from all corners of the U.S. and Canada, and around the world, including workers in Australia, England, Poland, The Philippine Islands, Costa Rica, Greece, Italy and the Czech Republic.  Some Belshaw customers, such as Frickin’ Delights Donuts in Devon, Alberta, Canada also voiced their support for the union. (Give ’em a “Like” on Facebook!)

The leadership of Local 79 wishes to express its heartfelt gratitude to all for their support, especially their union Sisters and Brothers who joined them on the picket line.

The Belshaw workers, who produce high-quality bakery equipment sold around the world, went on strike March 24 after they made concessions that would save the company $20,000 per month and the company refused to share a portion of the savings with workers through increased salaries. They held strong on the picket line, but after they again rejected a company offer on May 10, management reportedly hired replacement workers to fill 39 of the 60 affected jobs.

“These workers stood strong and refused to go back until they got a contract that properly addressed their concerns,” said Kevin Cummings, Grand Lodge Representative for the IAM who helped broker the final details of the agreement. “The company brought in new leadership for the facility, and we were finally able to have legitimate discussions. This new contract is a testament to solidarity and protecting the future, we are very proud of the members for not giving up.”

Additional details on the contract agreement ratified by members Wednesday are not yet available.

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