By SHERI GASSAWAY
St. Louis – As the Teamsters Local 618 strike at the Valvoline plant at Highway 55 and Potomac enters its sixth week, members are continuing to hold strong on the line in their fight for a better contract.
Local 618 members Andrew Amend, who’s worked at the plant at 3536 S. 1st Street for two years, and Lee Norvell, who’s worked there for four years, manned the strike line on a chilly April 1 in front of a fire pit in solidarity with the rest of their fellow workers who are determined to win a fair contract.
“We really appreciate all the support we’ve received from everyone,” Norvell said.
Ralph Wiltrout, a Local 618 shop steward who’s worked at the plant 17 years, said the two main reasons for the strike revolve around an unjust healthcare change that would require out-of-pocket deductibles as high as $7,000 and a threat to take away member pensions.
“There have been no meetings or updates between either side,” Wiltrout said. “But we are standing strong. The company is hoping everyone will get tired of being out here and just give in to whatever the company wants. But that’s a big mistake.”
The 22 members on strike are employed at the plant as drivers, material handlers, packers, warehouse leads and blenders. They have been on strike since March 1 after several failed negotiations on the three-year contract and federal mediation.
DO NOT PATRONIZE
Wiltrout said Local 618 is asking the public to avoid using Valvoline products or from patronizing stores or shops that use their products during the strike. He is also encouraging 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.
Wiltrout said Local 618 members at the plant are receiving strike pay, but anyone interested in donating can send a check made payable to him and mail 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.