By TiM ROWDEN
Festus, MO – Members of Laborers Local 110 went on strike March 2 at U.S. Silica’s Mississippi Sand processing plant in Festus over the company’s unfair labor practices, including efforts to do away with overtime and holiday pay.
Local 110 Business Manager Don Willey said 10 members employed at the plant took the action over the company’s demand in contract talks to do away with all overtime beyond the federal requirement of overtime pay after 40 hours.
The plant also employees 12 members of Operating Engineers Local 513, who also walked out, honoring the picket line.
“They want to do away with overtime after eight hours and on the weekends,” Willey said. “They don’t want to pay Sundays or holidays. That would cost these workers tens of thousands of dollars on an annual basis.”
Willey said the company is seeking similar concessions at its plant in Ottawa, IL – which is represented by the United Steel Workers – and its sand mine and processing in Utica, IL – which is represented by the Operating Engineers – and is also demanding unilateral authority to run the plants on a 24/7 schedule, again, with no overtime.
“It’s a companywide attack on all their union operations,” Willey said.
Willey said Local 110 planned to meet with a mediator and representatives from U.S. Silica to discuss the situation.
“We went out on an unfair labor practices strike because they’re asking for such drastic concessions,” Willey said. “We’ve asked them for financial statements and the price they’re getting per ton. They keep crying poor and saying that the sand is not worth anything right now. Yet, they keep telling the guys they have to work Saturdays and Sundays for the foreseeable future. They’re just trying to make more profit off the workers’ backs.”