CALDWELL, Ohio -- A strike at the International Converter plant in Caldwell is entering its third day on Tuesday.
Members of United Mine Workers of America Local 4826 on Saturday voted down a proposed contract with International Converter, and went on strike at 12:01 a.m. Sunday. Donnie Samms, union Vice President-at-Large, told AVC News that one of the main sticking points in negotiations was the company's refusal to give the union the information it needed to propose a fair wage increase, namely, the plant's profits for the previous three years. The last union contract, negotiated in 2010, allowed for a three-quarters of a percent raise each year.
Samms said that the union recently filed three separate complaints of unfair labor practices with International Converter. Joe Hill, spokesman for the UMWA's local chapter, said that he and his fellow workers just want to be treated fairly in the negotiations:
Local UMWA President Bill Wheeler said that the Caldwell plant is the safest of International Converter's 13 sister plants, and has gone more than 700 days without a workplace accident. The Caldwell plant also manufactures some of International Converter's most in-demand products, making it one of the company's most valuable locations. The Noble County Commissioners, State Sen. Lou Gentile, and many Caldwell-area businesses have voiced their support for the UMWA workers.
Samms said that 57 workers have been picketing in shifts, rain or shine, since Sunday, and intend to do so until an agreement can be reached.
International Convertor spokeswoman Jo LeMoine said that the company is disappointed that the company and union have been unable to reach a fair and equitable contract, but added that the plant has implemented contingency plans to maintain production quotas.
International Convertor is a subsidiary of Wisconsin-based Packaging Dynamics Corporation, and is one of the nation's leading suppliers of food and drug packaging products.
Federal mediators are scheduled to meet with UMWA #4826 and International Converter on Wednesday. AVC News will update you as new developments occur.