More than 100 workers are on strike at an Amcor Flexibles North America packaging plant in Des Moines, Iowa, after the two sides could not come to agreement on wages.
Approximately 110 employees walked off the job July 29, the company said, but the plant making flexible food packaging continues to operate.
The two sides are scheduled to return to the bargaining table Aug. 1.
"Workers have been taking concessions for over a decade and the company has $14 billion in sales globally and the workers are tried of moving backwards while trying to raise their families," said Jesse Case, principal officer for Local 238 of the Teamsters union.
The latest contract talks do include proposed wage increases, but they are not enough, he said.
"We've made gains this time and we're very close. But in the past, arguing has drug out up to a year and a half without a contract. And the workers are not willing to do that any longer," Case said. "The parties are very close."
The workers decided to strike this time around because they felt like they needed some leverage in negotiations, he said.
"Since early May, we've negotiated in good faith for a successor labor agreement with the union representing our Des Moines plant colleagues," an Amcor Flexibles North America spokeswoman said in an email July 31. "We offer industry-leading wages and benefits. Despite that, as well as our sincere efforts toward satisfactory resolution for all involved — including the need to keep the plant in competitive operational position — we are disappointed that the union has commenced a work stoppage."
Amcor did not specifically indicate who is working at the plant, such as management or personal from other locations, when asked about staffing.
"We have activated a customer supply plan, which includes contingency staffing to enable uninterrupted plant operation, as well as a dedicated Customer Care Team. We expect no disruption on supermarket shelves," the company said in a written statement.
All other issues except wages have been settled, and there has been movement in past negotiations regarding pay, Case said, just not enough. He characterized the difference between the two sides as a "couple percentage points."
"We told them what we needed in order to make a recommendation from the bargaining committee. So far, they've fallen short of that. We go back to the bargaining table [Aug. 1]. So we're hopeful to get a resolution. But they have to put just a little more money on the table," Case said.
The union leader also said past concessions by workers have had an impact on workers' views. "It's also about respect. They feel they haven't been respected for the last decade by the company, and they think the arrogant attitude of the company is not acceptable," Case said.
Amcor, meanwhile, had this to say: "We will continue to approach future negotiations with a respectful and collaborative mindset. Our goal is an outcome that is of value for all parties."