By SHERI GASSAWAY
St. Louis – After an eight-week strike, Teamsters Local 618 members are back on the job at the Valvoline plant at Highway 55 and Potomac.
The 22 workers, employed as drivers, material handlers, packers, warehouse leads and blenders, went on strike March 1 over a new three-year contract requiring out-of-pocket healthcare deductibles as high as $7,000 and a threat to take away their pensions.
Local 618 Principal Officer Derek Kropp said members ratified a new agreement Friday, April 23 and went back to work on Monday, April 26. Kropp was quick to thank Labor, elected officials and the general public for their support.
“While this time was not easy for our members, it was the support of those who helped these men and women get through it by walking the picket line, donating time, money, food and drink and providing camaraderie that pulled them through,”Kropp said.
Kevin FitzGerald, a retired Insulator’s Local 1 member who serves on the Missouri Jobs with Justice Executive Board, was one of many who called for members of the local Labor community to stand in solidarity with workers on strike line at the Valvoline plant at 3536 S. 1st St. About 40 union members, Labor-friendly allies and elected officials showed up in support.
After the strike, FitzGerald noted on the Pro-Union St. Louis Facebook page the importance of solidarity when union workers are taking a stand.
“Twenty-one men and one woman were on strike in a desolate area, not in the public eye,” he wrote. “But they had allies. We all need allies. We all need each other.”
In strike situations, FitzGerald noted, it’s important to make corporations understand that they are not only facing their own employees but the entire Labor Movement.
“Let’s be proud of these Teamsters 618 members,” FitzGerald wrote. “When they drew the line, it benefited all of us.”