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Back to work Sunday: Bay Valley strike ends

Published: Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014 4:33 p.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, Feb. 28, 2014 9:23 a.m. CDT
(SVM file photo)
Picketing workers from Bay Valley Foods wave Thursday, Feb. 13, near the plant in Dixon as drivers honk their horns in support of the workers.

DIXON – A new 3-year contract has ended a 22-day strike at Bay Valley Foods.

In an emailed statement Thursday afternoon, Dan Dring, vice president of human resources and operations for the Green Bay, Wis.-based company, said the workers of Teamsters Local 722 had voted earlier in the day to approve the contract.

“Bay Valley Foods is pleased that our employees voted today to accept the company’s last, best and final contract offer and will be returning to work Sunday,” Dring said in the email. “The new labor agreement contains fair and reasonable work rules changes the company had been seeking, while also providing wage increases and stability for our employees over the next three years.”

Steve Mongan, the union’s president, said members voted by a 2-to-1 ratio to ratify the contract Thursday.

“I think that most of the members are happy with what happened and are ready to get back to work,” he said.

Nearly 4 hours after the vote to end the strike, signs, chairs and firewood remained on the two picket lines workers had occupied.

Smoke billowed from a barrel that the workers had used to keep warm, but for the first time in 3 weeks, the picket lines were abandoned.

The company says it employs 112 union workers.

They went on strike at 11 p.m. Feb. 6, after their contact expired Dec. 28.

Major sticking points in the negotiations were pension and 401(k) plans, in addition to portions attendance bonuses in relation to what were considered excused absences.

Mongan said the two sides compromised on the attendance issue.

“I am happy to have it over with,” he said. “My main goal was to protect the jobs.”

Mongan filed an unfair labor practice charge, he told Sauk Valley Media in an interview days after the strike began.On Thursday, Mongan said he will drop that charge.

He also had taken steps to expand the strike to other Bay Valley Foods plants throughout the country. And as of Monday, he said, he was talking with six other union leaders and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters to do so.

But that expansion never happened, Mongan said.

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