St. Louis County – Members of Laborers Local 110 went on strike May 13 against Independent Concrete Pipe’s plant here, saying they are seeking only a modest contribution to their health care and pension benefits.
“They’ve already spent more on attorneys than this would have cost,” Steve MacDonald, business representative for Laborers Local 110, said.
All 10 Laborers who have been working at Independent Pipe were on hand for picketing, along with some of the six workers who have been on layoff recently. Many passers-by waved or honked in support.
Contract negotiations began in October, and the Laborers have been working without a contract since January. They are not seeking a wage increase, but they do want the company to increase its support for health insurance and pensions by 44 cents an hour. The talks have gone to mediation. MacDonald said the company has not provided documentation of its claim it is losing money.
Increased costs for insurance and pensions combined with receiving no wage increases have caused the workers to lose on take-home pay in recent years, MacDonald said, and they are just trying to halt those losses. Under the company’s plan, the workers would receive their lowest take-home pay since 2007.
“We took the hit last time, and the men lost money on their checks,” he said. “It seems to be the American way – to squeeze every nickel you can out of the worker.”
The company designs, builds and installs sanitary and storm sewer pipe, plus other fixtures such as culverts, bridges and barriers, from nine locations in Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky and Missouri. It was founded in 1912.