More than 350 people who work at a Perrigo manufacturing plant in the Bronx, New York, went on strike after contract talks last week failed. The unionized employees returned to the facility after the Labor Day weekend, but found themselves locked out and now find themselves in a stalemate. The plant manufactures various ointments and creams.
The dispute aroses as a contract expired at midnight on August 31. Perrigo, which makes a wide array of over-the-counter and prescription products, offered a three-year wage increase of $1.80 an hour, but the workers want more. They tell The New York Daily News the starting wage at the factory is too low. Most new workers begin at $8.50 an hour and many longtime workers make under $15 an hour despite decades on the job.
The workers belong to Teamsters Local 210, but they and the union are apparently at odds, employees tell the paper. Bob Bellach, vice president of Local 210, tells the News that the Perrigo (PRGO) proposal is reasonable because it offers a 4 percent wage hike, the largest the workers have ever received. But he adds that both sides have refused to budge and calls the situation a "stalemate."
A Perrigo spokesman, meanwhile, sends us a statement saying the employees "were instructed by the union to go on strike at the start of the third shift on September 3, 2012. Perrigo has a positive and productive working relationship with Local 210 and has no strike history at its Bronx facility. Because the current collective bargaining agreement expired on August 31, 2012, Perrigo had previously negotiated a new, tentative agreement with Local 210 that was unanimously recommended to the Bronx employees by the union and the employee bargaining committee.
"Among other provisions, that tentative agreement provided the Bronx employees with significant wage increases in each of the next three years, and had Perrigo maintaining the Local 210 sponsored health and retirement plans in which the employees participated. Despite these benefits and the union's unanimous recommendation that the employees approve this agreement, it was rejected (in an open ballot/non-secret ratification vote) resulting in the union's call for a strike.
"Faced with a confirmed strike, and to protect the integrity of Perrigo’s pharmaceutical products and manufacturing operations, Perrigo notified Local 210 that the employees it represents will not be allowed to return to work beginning with the third shift on September 3 until the recommended final offer is accepted. Perrigo will continue to manufacture, package, and distribute pharmaceutical products in the Bronx using trained existing non-union members of its workforce. Perrigo is deeply disappointed with this development and will work diligently to resolve the situation."