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Imerys employees headed back to work after three-month lockout

Posted: 3:20 PM, Nov 05, 2018
Updated: 2018-11-05 17:20:53-05

THREE FORKS – Workers at Imerys Talc America Inc. will head back into work on Monday for the first time in three months.

The workers union met with the mill executives on October 25 to renegotiate. During the three-month lockout, employees protested every day outside of the plant until an agreement was reached.

Union President Randy Tocci said this time the company came to the table to negotiate, unlike the other three times the two parties had met.

Tocci said both sides compromised. The mill compromised on seniority and the overtime policy and the union compromised on a benefits package. He said even though it is exciting to get back to work, there are adjustments that need to be made to the workers’ mindset.

“It just a lot of changing,” said Tocci. “Changing of your attitude and your mindset from being out on the line and going back. Now we got to get our mindset to going back to work and doing our job like we always have.”

Reporting by Mederios Babb for MTN News

THREE FORKS- Some 35 union workers at the Imerys Talc plant have reached an agreement on a new contract and will head back to work after nearly three months.

The workers’ union, Boilermakers Local D239, announced Wednesday the new three-year deal had been reached.

The lockout began on August 2 after negotiators for the union and Imerys America were unable to reach a deal. Employees have been without paychecks since August, and they lost their health insurance in September.

“This was a tough and tense time, and we appreciate those who joined us on the picket line, who sent emails and letters of support, who donated food and supplies and funds for us and who encouraged us to stand strong,” said Local D239 president Randy Tocci in a written statement.

Thirty-two of the original 35 locked-out workers will come back to work, and several others found other jobs, according to Local D239.

The Montana AFL-CIO, the state’s largest labor federation, called the deal a “huge victory” because of the solidarity of the workers and the surrounding community.

“Three dozen union workers, supported by their community, and their union brothers and sisters around the state just beat a huge multinational corporation proving that when we stand together working people can get a fair deal for a hard day’s work,” said Al Ekblad, secretary of the Montana AFL-CIO, in a statement.

Imerys is a French firm that mills talc, which absorbs moisture in a powder form and has multiple industrial applications.