UPDATED: Drivers end strike at Minneapolis metal manufacturer

Teamsters walk the picket line outside Metal-Matic in Minneapolis.

Teamsters walk the picket line outside Metal-Matic in Minneapolis. (submitted photo)

After voting unanimously to reject management’s final contract offer, seven members of Teamsters Local 120 who work at Minneapolis-based Metal-Matic, Inc. went on strike Tuesday morning. They remained on the picket line this afternoon.

The workers, drivers for the steel-tubing manufacturer, rejected what Local 120 representative Bill Wedebrand called “extreme concessions” regarding their pension benefits. Not only does Metal-Matic want to get out of the workers’ pension plan, it wants workers to foot the bill – at a cost of $10,000 to $12,000 per employee, Wedebrand said.

“They have to cover the unfunded liability to get out of the pension, and they want to do it on the backs of the employees,” Wedebrand said. “There was a 100 percent vote to reject that proposal. People wanted something in return.”

What Metal-Matic offered, according to the union, was a small 401(k) match and annual raises of less than 2 percent.

The two sides have not met since the strike began. Negotiations opened last spring, and members of Local 120 had been working under the terms of a temporary extension to their previous contract.

Metal-Matic has two facilities in Minneapolis, but Local 120 has focused on establishing a 24-hour picket line at the company’s headquarters, 629 2nd St. SE.

Maintaining a round-the-clock presence is a challenge for a bargaining unit of seven employees. To volunteer your support for striking Metal-Matic workers, drop by the picket line or call Wedebrand at 651-343-1719.

“Fortunately, a lot of our members from other bargaining units have stepped up to the plate, and they’re helping picket,” Wedebrand said. “We’ll take any help we can get.”

UPDATE 9/20/13 – Teamsters Local 120 announced on its Facebook page this afternoon that the Metal-Matic strike ended earlier in the day.

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