Workers Seek Fair Contract, Continuation of Negotiations
(COLUMBUS, Ohio) – Members of Teamsters Local 284 employed at International Paper Corporation’s Delaware, Ohio, plant have gone on an unfair labor practice (ULP) strike.
The ULP strike was caused by International Paper’s decision to unilaterally implement what it called its “last, best and final offer.” The implemented terms and conditions of employment include the right to schedule and work the Local 284 members up to 84 hours per week—seven days per week, 12 hours per day—under threat of termination.
Local 284 maintains that the parties are not at an impasse in negotiations and is requesting the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service schedule additional meetings.
Prior to going on strike, Local 284 filed an unfair labor practice charge against International Paper, alleging that its implementation of its last, best and final offer, as modified on April 6, 2015, was unlawful. That charge is currently pending at Region 8 of the National Labor Relations Board.
Teamsters Local 284 and International Paper began negotiations in the spring of 2015 for a new collective bargaining agreement to replace the one that expired on June 26, 2015.
“Forcing these men and women to work 70, 80 or even more hours a week is anti-worker and anti-family. This is a matter that should be negotiated with due consideration for the needs of the workforce, their spouses and kids, not forced upon the workers without discussion. We are not going to allow this company to drag workers back to the 19th century,” said Paul Suffoletto, President of Local 284.
International Paper announced at the first negotiation session that one of its core corporate positions was to eliminate any and all limitations on the number of hours employees can be forced to work. Under the collective bargaining agreement in place at that time, International Paper could require employees to work 12 hours of overtime Monday through Friday, and an additional 8 hours of overtime on up to 24 Saturdays. Workers were able the balance their job and family needs under the schedule the company now refuses to follow.
“If a company believes it needs to force employees to work 70 or more hours week after week, then that company needs to hire more full-time workers,” Suffoletto said. “That’s good for the middle class and our communities. Besides, International Paper has set up plants in countries like France that have 35 hour weeks. The excuse that they need to stick it to American workers in order to be competitive doesn’t hold up. ”
Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents 1.4 million hardworking men and women throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. For more information, please visit www.teamster.org. Follow us on Twitter @Teamsters and “like” us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/teamsters.