Cedar Rapids, Iowa: Day 22 for striking Ingredion workers
Cedar Rapids, IA – Over 120 workers from the Ingredion plant in Cedar Rapids, Iowa have been on strike for 22 days after rejecting the bosses “last, best and final offer” on August 1. The striking workers are members of the Bakery, Confectionary, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers union (BCTGM).
Ingredion produces starches and sweeteners mostly for industry. The plant was purchased by Ingredion in 2015 and that’s when the union says everything began to go downhill.
According to the union, the bosses offer would give them 4.5 to 7.3% raises over the length of the contract which they say is not enough. The offer would also open the workers up to forced overtime and potential 12-hour shifts. It would diminish health benefits and reduce vacation time. It also would allow for more untrained temps to do the work of the union members, which they is not safe.
As a result, on August 1 the workers voted unanimously to reject the bosses offer, let the contract expire, and go on strike, which is where they remain 22 days later.
Chad Kvidahl is a control room operator who runs two industrial driers, which are part of the starch-making process. Kvidahl said, “First of all it is about the loss of jobs. I don’t want to see five guys lose their gigs. Second is the pay freeze. Inflation is high enough and we were essential a little over a year ago, and now they have record profits and now they are cutting back on the pay.”
He added, “Running those industrial driers…I am seven years in and I am kind of what would be considered a novice level. There are guys I work with who are 20 years in and they would be considered like the masters of the craft. And that is what passes on the knowledge and the training currently. It’s been 17 days and the only thing they have put out are some company trucks of bad product, and one guy in an ambulance last night.”
“It shouldn’t be this hard considering we were the number one producer of industrial starch for Ingredion. We’re their number one – per person, per pound, we are number one in the nation. It shouldn’t be this hard just to keep what we have,” stated Kvidahl.
The union and employer are expected to meet this week. Until then, the strike continues.