Union workers at the old Heinz plant in Troy Hill have rejected their latest contract offer, though they are still open to negotiations.
Employees in the workers’ union, United Food and Commercial Workers Local 23, voted Sunday on potentially walking off the job.
A Riverbend Foods employee told Channel 11 that 114 workers voted in favor of the contract, while 240 rejected it. The union contacted the company’s lawyer, who said they will continue to negotiate.
Workers said they want a better contract from Riverbend Foods – the current company that operates the plants – and the union said it has had at least a dozen bargaining sessions since the company took over last year.
However, the two sides have not been able to agree on wages or benefits. Pensions are also a big concern.
Retirees are worried they could lose their livelihood if pensions were taken away.
Tom Lavan, Chief Executive Officer of Riverbend, issued a statement regarding the labor negotiations.
“Despite what you may have heard from the UFCW Leadership, Riverbend Foods is not taking anybody’s pension away as that would be illegal. One hundred percent of the money in the pensions will remain,” Lavan said. “In our proposal, employee pensions will be frozen and active employees will no longer accrue additional service time. As always, retirees do not accrue additional service time and therefore there is no change and they will continue to receive the same monthly payments they have enjoyed in the past.
“For current employees, Riverbend proposes to replace the pension plan with a 401(k) that includes a 50 percent company match on the first six percent an employee invests. If the company decides to close out the pension program itself, all retiree and vested current employee money would be provided via an annuity or in a lump sum cash payment. Those that want to learn more about pensions can go to the ERISA government web site.”
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