Almost 200 workers on strike at LaPorte Co. plant
LAPORTE COUNTY, Ind. (WNDU) - 191 unionized employees at MonoSol are nearing the one-week mark of a labor strike over their newest contract proposal.
“I feel MonoSol really doesn’t care about anything but their bottom line,” expressed utility operator Brandon Arnett.
Teamsters 135 represents the employees and said a major concern has been workers reportedly having to do 62-hour work weeks as a result of “forced overtime”
The union’s president-elect Dustin Roach said many MonoSol workers would not mind volunteering for additional hours.
“But when they’re forced to work, continually week after week after week, they’re missing ballgames with their kids or missing - you know - sporting events, life events, weddings, everything,” explained Roach.
MonoSol Vice President of Corporate Affairs Matt Vander Laan responded to the union’s claims on Tuesday.
“Unplanned overtime is more directly tied to excessive absenteeism,” said Vander Laan, “so when not enough, enough employees show up for their regularly scheduled shifts, that creates the overtime opportunities.”
Vander Laan added the previous four-year contract negotiated with Teamsters 135 had stated the company can impose a mandatory overtime if there are still extra shifts remaining that haven’t been covered by veteran workers; they have the first choice of volunteering for overtime.
The current MonoSol proposal includes one-year of no mandatory overtime plus a major pay increase that, when combined with other bonuses and incentives, is twice the rate of inflation.
“We’re really hopeful that the involvement of a federal mediator is going to help us cut through the rhetoric and the emotional and the inaccurate sort of things that are being said right now,” said Vander Laan.
Roach said Teamsters 135 is bargaining with a federal mediator on Thursday.
“It’s the same bargaining committees for the company, so I don’t know that much is going to change. I don’t expect much is going to change. I hope it does, because these employees need to get back to work,” he said.
The workers’ strike began on November 30th, when contracts expired at midnight.
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