THREE FORKS – Earlier this week union workers and Imerys Talc America sat down with a mediator hoping to get union employees off of the picket line and back to work. It didn’t go as planned.
According to the Montana Department of Labor, the 35 union workers being locked out account for around 13% of Three Fork’s private sector employment.
For about the last six weeks, former employees continue their protest outside of the mill. Union President Randy Tocci, hoped after a day and a half of negotiations the two parties would be able to come to terms.
“We were hopeful that we could get back in there by this weekend, that is not gonna happen,” said Tocci.
An email statement released by Imerys, stated the company’s offer was “fair and reasonable”, stating the company would be: “increasing pay by 3 percent, offering a new bonus of up to 10 percent with no requirement for overtime work, a 401k match up to 7 percent vested immediately, and other economic incentives above the previous collective bargaining agreement.”
Union President Randy Tocci said this deal is the same deal that was rejected by the union three times in the past.
“I don’t know what it is gonna take for them to try and come and make at least some type of an offer that is different than what they have offered the last four times that has been rejected the last four times soundly but at this point in time they are not willing to do that,” said Tocci.
Dan Schedel worked for the plant for 19 years. He says as each day goes by a little less hope is lost.
“Pretty saddening really. You know you put your heart and soul into a place for that many years and then have them come into your work area and tell you-you are no longer needed or we don’t want you here. It’s a bad deal,” said Schedel.
Tocci says the union will continue to protest outside of the company, pursue unfair labor practice legal action and put pressure on Imerys until they can get back to work.
Imerys was asked for comment several times but has not yet responded.
Reporting by Mederios Babb for MTN News