Teamsters union members who have been on strike at two Chicago area ProBuild facilities since July 28 voted Saturday to accept a settlement with the LBM giant and return to work. The vote came four days after ProBuild announced it would consolidate one of the two yards as well as close a nearby component manufacturing facility.
Roger Kohler, secretary-treasurer and principal officer of Teamsters Local 673, told ProSales today that he expected the striking Teamsters would begin returning to their jobs on Tuesday. There was no immediate confirmation from ProBuild headquarters in Denver regarding the strike's end.
Roughly 50 to 60 members of Teamsters Local 673, most of them drivers, walked out of ProBuild's Wheaton and Yorkville, Ill., yards in late July in a dispute over ProBuild's next contract with the local. The two sides disagree over health insurance, pay protections, seniority rights, and working conditions. ProBuild also was seeking a 5% pay cut from the Teamsters.
Kohler declined to give the terms of ProBuild's settlement offer that the Teamsters accepted, saying he didn't want to antagonize the company as it brought the Teamsters back to work and eliminated the temporary workers it had brought in while the strike was under way.
Nearly seven weeks into the strike, on Sept. 14, ProBuild announced it would consolidate its Wheaton and Yorkville operations and close its Hampshire, Ill, component manufacturing facility, all effective Sept. 30. "The changes at our Illinois facilities are a direct result of the struggling Chicago home building market, which is down 82% since 2007, according to the U.S. Census Bureau," ProBuild, America's second-biggest LBM operation, said in a statement. "The consolidation will impact 40 employees in the market. Severance packages have been offered to all eligible employees, and some employees will have opportunities to work elsewhere within the ProBuild organization."
Later, in reply to a question from ProSales, ProBuild marketing director Carolyn Atkinson said the strike wasn't a factor. "These changes are strictly business decisions related to the struggling Chicago home building market," Atkinson said in an e-mail. "They will allow us to operate more efficiently and continue to provide the same level of service for our customers. This area can no longer support three ProBuild facilities."
ProBuild's announcement also came just a few days after the company's area vice president, Doug Jones, left the company to join a market rival, US LBM. Atkinson said the resignation didn't influence ProBuild's decision, as discussions around consolidating locations took place before Jones quit. Dave Mills, a vetern of the Chicago market who most recently was the general manager of ProBuild's Delaware, Ohio, operation, has returned to run the Chicago market.