The International Association of Machinists (IAM) District 9 is holding a “Solidarity Rally” Wednesday, Jan. 25, from 1-3 p.m. in support of the hard-working Machinists at American Pulverizer, who have been on strike for over 12 weeks now with no end in sight.
IAM International President Bob Martinez and Midwest Territory General Vice President Phil Gruber have been invited to attend the rally.
IAM District 9 Directing Business Representative Mark Conner is urging all union members in the St. Louis area to attend and show their support for the workers at American Pulverizer fighting for a fair contract.
“I urge all our brother and sister unions to come out and show your support for the IAM brothers and sisters who are fighting for a fair contract for themselves and their families,” Conner said.
In addition to showing support for the striking workers, Conner said the rally also will hopefully help to move contract negotiations off center, where they have been stuck since the strike began.
American Pulverizer is located at 1319 Macklind Ave. and the rally will be held there.
Joe Eccardt, District 9 business representative at American Pulverizer, said the company continues to hold its position on contract changes that would increase members’ cost share on health care insurance and take away premium pay for weekdays, weekends and holiday overtime without guaranteeing holidays off.
The company also wants an addition to the “managements rights clause” which would allow severe rules change that could lead to discharge on a first offense, force the use of vacation time for medical leave, take away union leave that strips the right to union activity and only offers a 0.5 to 1 percent increase in wages depending on a member’s classification.
“Throughout the last two contracts the company has been stripping benefits away from them,” Eccardt said. “Our members finally said ‘enough is enough.’”
The good news is that talks are continuing.
“We’ve had a longstanding contract with this company going back many years,” Eccardt said. “We went back to the table yesterday and agreed in principle on a few things, but everything is contingent on wages and insurance. We’re not going to fix it overnight.”
As the strike continues, Eccardt said, those on the picket have been grateful to brother and sister union members who have shown support, including members of Gas Workers Local 11-6 and Teamsters Local 688, who have been bringing by food and firewood. He said members of the community have also shown their support.
The Humane Society has been great allowing strikers to use their facilities when needed, Eccardt said. And Boyer Fire Protection, located next door to American Pulverizer, has been allowing strikers use of their facilities for storage and personal matters.
“We’re grateful to our union members and the community for their support,” Eccardt said. “Now we need them to step up again and help us send a message of solidarity. We’re all in this together.”