Teamsters face dues hit in Indiana

Teamsters Local 364 chief union steward Mike Helman admits there were a few signs that the future was not bright at Clark National’s Broadline Foodservice Business, also known as Clark Foodservice.

Still, looking for a new job as a forklift driver was not on the forefront of his mind after 25 years at Clark. “We saw some of the business disappearing,” he said. “Business has been on the decline. I don’t know if ‘blown away’ is the right word,” he said regarding the official announcement the union received Thursday night and Friday morning from Clark National Inc. officials.

The key parts of that announcement locally are, all 80 union workers including drivers and warehouse workers will lose their jobs. So will approximately 70 other personnel at the South Bend facility at 1901 North Bendix Drive, according to both Helman and Teamsters Local 364 business agent Gary Monroe.

“Basically, they informed members they were closing,” said Monroe. “They gave us a WARN (Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act) notice. They will be closing in 30 to 45 days and actually have to pay for 60 days.”

Calls were placed to both Clark National Inc. and U.S. Foodservice, the latter of which announced it was purchasing certain key operating assets of the South Bend broadline foodservice distribution business from Clark National.

An official with U.S. Foodservice, whose corporate offices are in Rosemont, Ill., referred questions to Clark.

Repeated messages to Clark National’s Public Relations Department were not returned.

U.S. Foodservice is a full-service distributor with more than 27,000 associates in over 70 locations nationwide. The company distributes food and related products to 250,000 customers across the United States including restaurants, hospitals, hotels, schools, government and other establishments where food is prepared outside of the home.

For Monroe, the goal now is to not only find jobs for union members, but to see what kind of severance package he can get for Local 364 members.

“We are going to have a meeting a week from Saturday … to see what can be done with the company as far as any kind of benefits after the 60-day period,” he said. “I think maybe we can get something done.”

Helman said he hopes the package includes some health care extension and some kind of severance pay based on years of service “to get these families through the tough times.”

He estimates as many as 50 to 60 percent of the union members have worked at Clark for more than 20 years.

“Many of us have been working here since we were kids,” Helman said. “All’s we can hope is that they will be fair with some type of severance package. The Hindmans, the one’s that owned Clark, have always been pretty fair with us, so we are hoping we get some kind of fair severance package.”

In the meantime, Local 364 will try to find work with other companies it has contracts with, Monroe said.

“It’s a great work force,” he said, adding Workforce Development help also will be sought.

As far as union employees, warehouse workers were earning about $16 per hour or at least $33,200 per year, not counting overtime, and drivers were making $17.50 to $17.80 or about $37,000 per year prior to overtime, Monroe said.

Drivers, because of their commercial driver’s license, would likely have better prospects at finding new jobs, Monroe said.

Monroe said the news caught him off guard Thursday.

“We didn’t know any of this until (Thursday) morning,” he said. “Mr. Hindman came in wanting a meeting with the chief union steward. Basically, they told us it was going to close and what’s going to happen.”

Setting 80 union members and 150 Michiana employees out in the job market in the current economy isn’t promising, admitted Monroe.

“The way this economy is there is not a lot of jobs,” he said. “But we are going to try to help them find work.”


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