ROCHESTER, Minnesota – Labor negotiations at the Kemps ice cream plant continue to deteriorate as workers took another step toward a strike over the weekend.
Just last month, members of Teamsters Local 120, a union representing more than 160 workers at the plant, voted to authorize a strike as contract negotiations with the company stalled. Now the union says it is set to follow through on plans for workers to walk off the job, after members voted overwhelmingly to reject a ‘final offer’ from Kemps in a vote 135 to 1.
While details of the standoff are still unclear with ongoing negotiations, Local 120 says the offer “from Kemps (a dairy company) does not even follow the price of milk”, and it’s time for the company to share its wealth with its employees.
Local 120 business administrator Jon Chappuis says KIMT workers at the plant showed up for work, even if it meant putting their lives on the line.
“They’ve been through a pandemic, everybody. They called them essential, they didn’t get a dime more to do it. So they risked their lives going to work when there was no no vaccine, then they were told they had to get the vaccine to work there. So now, you know, they are fighting, they should stand up for what they deserve, absolutely,” Chappuis said.
Local 120 stock talks will be held at the Rochester plant with Kemps on Wednesday to see if a deal can be reached. Otherwise, Chappuis says signs are being made and picket shifts are planned.
“We’re going to give them a chance to do the right thing. Otherwise, you know, we’re going to be on strike.”
The union has previously said a work stoppage could have “major effects on the supply of ice cream in the Midwest.”