9/11/07

UFCW calls strike over proposal

Workers from a plant that manufactures frozen Mexican food products went on strike this morning to protest proposed healthcare employee cost increases by the company. Located on Pleasant Street in Riverside (CA), Windsor Foods produces such items as burritos. The company has been in negotiations with the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 1167, the union representing about 450 workers at the plant, since April.

The worker's contract expired in May, according to union representatives. More than 150 were walking a picket line this morning. The company has offered a wage increase but want the workers to pay 15 percent of their healthcare benefits, said Bill Lathrop, union president. "Raises don't make up for the healthcare costs," he said. Workers have been picketing outside the plant since 2 a.m. this morning.

Union representative Matt Bruno said employees are prepared to keep striking as long as it takes.

"We're just looking for something that's fair and reasonable," Bruno said.

Lynn Sutter, vice president at Windsor Foods, said the company is not prepared to discuss negotiations with the media.

"We are disappointed that the UFCW has seen the need for this action," she said in a released statement. "Our employee compensation and benefit package are highly competitive and we have enjoyed many years of successful relations. We will do the best we can to reach an equitable agreement with the UFCW, but we have a business to support and will make arrangements to continue to service our customers as needed."

The last strike held at the plant was in 1990, over similar healthcare benefits issues. That strike lasted five weeks, Lathrop said.

(pe.com)

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