A Teamsters Union strike against two Chicago-area ProBuild facilities has entered its fifth full week with no resolution in sight and increased frustration by the Teamster local's leader that ProBuild is pulling back from past offers more than it's making concessions.
"They're basically implying that the longer we go, they more they're going to take away," Roger Kohler, secretary-treasurer and principal officer of Teamsters Local 673, said in an Aug. 27 interview with ProSales. "It seems they're punishing people for trying to protect the financial well-being of their families."
Roughly 50 to 60 Teamsters, most of them drivers, went out on strike July 28 at ProBuild 's Yorkville and Wheaton yards. Kohler has said previously that the strike involves Teamster objections to ProBuild's proposed contract changes involving health insurance, pay protections, seniority rights, and working conditions. But last week he added that ProBuild also is seeking to cut the Teamsters' pay by 5% in the first year of the contract.
In a statement issued Sept. 2, ProBuild said: "ProBuild presented its last, best and final offer to union representatives and we remain hopeful that we will come to an agreement soon. Our No. 1 priority is to serve our customers and ProBuild continues to operate at pre strike levels in Illinois to ensure our customers' needs are met."
A federal mediator met with the two sides on Tuesday, Aug. 24. Kohler said no progress was made, and some offers that ProBuild had made in late July that were subject to a favorable vote by the Teamsters had been taken away now that the local's members voted then to reject the contract offer. Those offers concerned seniority status when ProBuild might rehire after layoffs, some contributions to health insurance costs should the Teamsters agree to become part of ProBuild's group coverage, and the return of one personal day that ProBuild had wanted to eliminate.
The Teamsters went to the National Labor Relations Board late last week to give testimony on unfair labor practices by ProBuild, Kohler added. And the picket line saw the return of a giant inflatable rat that the Teamsters have used to call attention to their strike
"We put our rat back up," Kohler said., "Our guys stayed strong."
Throughout the strike ProBuild has stressed that service levels remain high at the two yards affected and hat a good part of the labor dispute involves its efforts to treat the Teamsters more like ProBuild employees nationwide. (Story)