By SHERI GASSAWAY
St. Louis – Eight weeks. That’s how long 22 Teamsters Local 618 members have been on strike at the Valvoline plant here at Highway 55 and Potomac over a new contract requiring out-of-pocket healthcare deductibles as high as $7,000 and a threat to take away their pensions.
Throughout the last two months, fellow union members have continued to stand in solidarity with their fight. Last week, members from UAW Local 2250 and Teamster retirees joined Local 618 on the strike line.
‘WE STICK TOGETHER’
Local 2250 President Fred Jamison and Vice President Shawn Kohrs asked their members to stand with Local 618 members at the Valvoline plant last Friday.
Local 2250 members know firsthand the support needed during a strike. In 2019, they were involved in a nationwide UAW strike against General Motors that lasted for 40 days.
“Let’s show Valvoline that our union family is strong and that we stick together,” Kohrs said in a Facebook post.
‘THESE GUYS NEED OUR HELP’
On April 14, Teamster retirees joined their Teamster brothers and sisters on the strike line.
Ronald M. Gushleff, Sr., president of the Local 600 Golden Age Retirees’ Club, organized the event.
“These guys need our help,” Gushleff said. “If it wasn’t for the blood, sweat and tears of those who came before me, I wouldn’t have the pension I’ve got and the good life I’ve been able to have because of union wages and benefits. All these guys are asking for is a little piece of bread and a chair at the table.”
The 22 Local 618 members on strike are employed at the Valvoline plant as drivers, material handlers, packers, warehouse leads and blenders. They have been on strike since March 1 after several failed negotiations and federal mediation failed to produce an acceptable three-year contract.
Ralph Wiltrout, a Local 618 shop steward who’s worked at the plant 17 years, said Local 618 is asking the public to avoid using Valvoline products or patronizing stores or shops that use Valvoline products during the strike.
Local 618 also is urging the public to call Valvoline and tell them why they are not using their products.
The number to Valvoline headquarters in Lexington, Ky., is 859-357-7777.
To make sure Valvoline gets the message, callers are asked to contact the following company officials:
- CEO Sam Mitchell Ext. 2204652
- President Mike Critchlow Ext. 2491517
- Senior Vice President Craig Moughler Ext. 2017051.
Local 618 members at the plant are receiving strike pay, but they could use more help.
Anyone interested in making a donation can mail a check made payable to Ralph Wiltrout to 2694 Little Antire Road, High Ridge, MO 63049. He will add the money to other donations collected on behalf of the striking workers.
You can also send cash for the workers to $Anderson63025 through CashApp.