At their last negotiations meeting, General Mills presented a “last, best and final” offer to workers. The offer did not include any real protections of a labor contract, and contains no significant raises, no maintenance of benefits over the term of the contract and no other provisions that would support workers at the facility. The contract also seeks to install unfair scheduling practices and third-party subcontracting that could move jobs from Cedar Rapids to non-union facilities nearby or abroad.
On Oct. 3, workers voted to authorize a strike. When General Mills presented their “last, best and final” offer, it triggered a contract vote, which will take place on Wednesday, Nov. 6.
Workers at General Mills voted to join the RWDSU on Jan. 9, 2019. Throughout the contract negotiations, workers have been fighting for a voice and fair treatment in the workplace, as well as paid time off and fair wages. General Mills’ last offer could mean potential job losses.
“The best way for working people to protect themselves and their families is to join together in a union and to fight for a strong contract. The workers at General Mills are doing just that. These workers must not be treated as disposable by General Mills. The company can, and must, do better. If workers are forced into this zero-sum game, they will stand strong. This is a workforce where many members have spent 20-30 plus years working at this iconic American brand and the fact that the company won’t recognize the hard work they do every day is outrageous,” said Stuart Appelbaum, president of RWDSU.
“When we began contract negotiations, we looked forward to building a positive working relationship with General Mills that would lift up the hard work our members do every day. It is clear, however, that General Mills never shared this desire. Presenting a ‘last, best and final’ offer with countless loopholes that can harm workers is no contract offer at all. We hope that General Mills will rethink this empty contract and come back to the table so we can ensure they are part of the continuance of good paying full time jobs in Cedar Rapids for many years to come. If not, workers will have no choice but to go on strike, we don’t want that, General Mills can’t want that, and it will only hurt the Cedar Rapids economy,” said Roger Grobstich, VP of RWDSU.
“I’ve worked at General Mills for over 38 years; I’ve stared them directly in the eyes through months of contract negotiations and I am stunned, to say the least, by their ‘last, best and final’ offer on our contract. I know everyone who works alongside me knows that representation from the union and a fair contract will change our future here. We will not back down. General Mills cannot get away with this; we are united and if we have to, we will go on strike and shut down this plant,” said Tim Sarver, a General Mills worker.
RWDSU represents approximately 520 workers at the General Mills manufacturing facility in contract negotiations. The workers in the bargaining unit handle production, sanitation and maintenance at the facility. General Mills’ workers are members of Local 110 of the RWDSU, which also represents workers across town at the Quaker Oats facility in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and at Coles Quality Foods in North Liberty, Iowa.