Cottage Grove Steelworkers overwhelmingly reject 3M’s contract proposal

Terry Fredrick drove 45 minutes from Woodville, Wis., to join informational picketing outside the 3M plant in Cottage Grove, where he's worked for over six years.

Terry Fredrick isn’t scheduled to clock in today, but he drove 45 minutes from Woodville, Wis., to join pre-dawn picketing outside the 3M plant in Cottage Grove, where he’s worked for over six years.


Two days after voting 3M’s contract proposal down, Steelworkers at the company’s Cottage Grove chemicals plant are putting their informational picket lines back up.

Members of United Steelworkers Local 11-00418 said they hoped the overwhelming opposition to 3M’s proposal, rejected by a 5-to-1 margin, delivers a message to the company, which made nearly $5 billion in profits last year.

“We aren’t going to accept some of the concessions that they’re looking for,” Local 11-00418 President Mike Schanks said. “We’re willing to bargain, but some of the things they want are just too much to ask.”

R to L: Jeff Puhl, Jeremy Hackbarth and Josh Noltin stand up for a fair contract outside 3M's Cottage Grove chemicals plant.

R to L: Jeff Puhl, Jeremy Hackbarth and Josh Noltin stand up for a fair contract outside 3M’s Cottage Grove chemicals plant.

About 380 Steelworkers work inside the Cottage Grove facility, and they’ve ramped up their campaign for a fair contract in recent months, hoping to fight off steep concessionary demands from 3M.

The company wants to roll back several provisions of workers’ previous contract, including premium pay for weekend work and seniority-based layoffs during slowdowns at the plant. 3M also wants to reduce its contribution to workers’ 401(k) retirement plans – and the power to force workers to take extra shifts without paying overtime wages, even on scheduled days off.

In addition to picketing outside their plant, Steelworkers have rallied outside 3M’s headquarters in Maplewood and marched together in community parades. Last month, they voted to authorize their leadership to call a strike if necessary.

The contract proposal voted down Monday came without a recommendation from the local’s bargaining team.

“We left it up to people to vote on their own,” Schanks said. “It was, in my 30 years of working at 3M, the highest turnout for a contract vote I’ve ever seen. These guys are holding tough.”

Their previous contract with the company has expired, but the two sides have agreed to extend the agreement, in seven-day increments, as long as negotiations continue. They are scheduled to meet with a federal mediator Oct. 11.



  1. Joseph Rhode says:

    Everybody’s getting tired of the way big business operates trying to take away from the working guy and they think they can get away with it steadfast everyone good luck

  2. Edward IBEW Dijeau says:

    I have been Buying 3M products for 50 years. Scotch 33 electrical tape rather than Electrical Tape made in China or Mexico because I know it was Union Made in USA. Does this mean I need to start buying the “Other Guys” electrical tape made by “Slave Labor”? Will 3M move to Mexico like so many others? Will we get a President and Congress that will help keep “Union Jobs” here? Hillery says NO to the TPP but Republicans love the TPP and T-Rump will make it more profitable to go Non-Union when they come back here to “Right to Work” States. Revolving door. Exit your contracts, re-enter to cheap wages and stiffed workers. Vote for Hillery, keep your better paying job, Vote for T-Rump and see your pay and Union go down the tubes.

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