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Bay Valley strike continues

Union files unfair labor practices charge

FILE PHOTO - Teamsters' from Local #722 picket in front of Bay Valley Foods in Dixon 
Friday, Feb. 7.
FILE PHOTO - Teamsters' from Local #722 picket in front of Bay Valley Foods in Dixon Friday, Feb. 7.

DIXON – Negotiations between Bay Valley Foods and Teamsters Local 722 are expected to continue Tuesday morning.

Workers went on strike at 11 p.m. Thursday, after they had been working without a contract since Dec. 28, said Steve Mongan, the union's president.

The two sides met for 3 hours on Friday and Sunday with a federal mediator, which was called for by Bay Valley Foods, Mongan said, but "very little progress" had been made.

Mongan said he was "disappointed" with the position the company was taking, but was hopeful a deal could be reached Tuesday.

Mongan filed an unfair labor practice charge Thursday, he said, because Bay Valley Foods wouldn't discuss a collective bargaining agreement without a policy in which a doctor's note would no longer be sufficient for authorized time off.

If the two sides agreed to a contract, Mongan said, it could be ratified by the union within 24 hours and the unfair labor practices charge would be dropped.

The charge will be reviewed by the Peoria regional office of the National Labor Relations Board to determine whether formal action should be taken.

As of this afternoon, Mongan was yet to hear from the regional office, he said, but expected to in the next few days.

In an emailed statement on Friday, Dan Dring, the vice president of human resources and operations for Green Bay-based Bay Valley Foods, said the decision by the workers to strike was "surprising and disappointing."

Bay Valley Foods is operating the plant during the strike with its management employees, according to a company statement.

On Friday, workers picketing said Bay Valley Foods was also looking to reduce its contribution to the workers' 401(k) plan and increasing workers' contributions for health insurance without added benefits.

Workers have been picketing outside the Bay Valley Foods location, 820 Palmyra St. in Dixon, since the strike started and are taking 2-hour shifts due to the cold. The workers wave their signs and keep warm with small fires.

The support from the community has been positive, Mongan said, and residents have honked in support, in addition to dropping off firewood, coffee or food.

The company says it employs 112 union workers.

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