In the early hours of Monday morning Teamsters Local 89 members at Fire King began an Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) Strike against their Employer. A ULP charge filed with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) stemmed from the Company attempting to circumvent union leadership and the bargaining committee by issuing a letter filled with factually inaccurate information and half-truths. The tone of this letter was clearly an attempt by the Company to directly bargain with employees. This action angered the membership at Fire King, resulting in a unanimous reaffirmation of their resolve to strike if needed.
In addition to the ULP strike, members last week unanimously rejected a “Last, Best and Final Offer” from the Company that attempted to buy their votes by including a $500 dollar bonus. This offer was insulting, as evident by the unanimous rejection, as it failed to keep wages up with inflation or the industry standard, and perhaps more importantly failed to address serious inadequacies in the Company’s healthcare plan.
Fire King members have been paying excessively high premiums and out of pocket costs for Company provided health care for far too long. With extremely high deductibles ranging from $3000 to $13,700 depending on the type of plan, the Fire King insurance plan requires members to pay out obscene amounts of money before a single penny would be spent on their behalf.
Teamsters Local 89 offered a clearly superior alternative with a TeamCare plan that would be a minimal cost for the Company while also resulting in a significant reduction in premiums and a switch to a co-pay-based system with far lower deductibles. These changes would provide Fire King members with a quality healthcare plan that they could actually use. The Company rejected this by citing a higher cost, but later altered their reasoning to a lack of control when it became apparent the cost to them was minimal. In fact, Local 89 went out of its way to adapt the plan to make it more palatable to the Company by allowing them to incorporate their management and non-union employees into it so that they wouldn’t have to deal with separate plans. Yet the Company still rejected this plan, simply because they want to maintain their ability to alter healthcare at will; a privilege they now enjoy, and clearly hold in higher regard than the health of their workforce.
Teamsters Local 89 will continue to seek dates for negotiations with the Company as the ULP strike continues. Meanwhile, the over seventy Local 89 Fire King members are in high spirits while manning the picket line. If you are a fellow Teamster or union member, or simply a supporter of unions in general, we encourage you to visit the picket line and extend a hand in solidarity to these brave and proud sisters and brothers.