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Uniting Food, Farm and Hotel Workers World-Wide

Support Striking US Tea Workers!

Posted to the IUF website 06-Mar-2008

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Members of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco and Grain Millers (BCTGM) Local 50 in Little Falls, New York have been on strike since November 1, 2007 at Redco Foods. Management is seeking to impose radically inferior terms and conditions of employment on new hires, which would entrench a deeply divisive two-tier system at the workplace. The union is taking a strong stand to defend workers' working conditions and living standards in a depressed rural part of New York state. In over 4 months on the picket line, workers have braved freezing temperatures and snow storms. Now they are seeking your support.

Redco produces teas under the Salada and Red Rose brands. In 1995, the company was bought by the German-based transnational Teekanne Group. Teekanne is Europe's leading producer of herbal and fruit teas, inventor of the flow-through tea bag and a leading producer of tea bag manufacturing equipment.

Workers at the plant have on average 23 years of service with the company. Their collective agreement expired in July last year. Management has used the opportunity to demand unacceptably inferior and discriminatory conditions for new employees, conditions that would undermine those the workforce has gained over many years of union struggles. Management is proposing that new hires contribute toward basic health-care costs, which existing workers are not required to do, that they be excluded from the company's defined-benefit pension plan and instead be obliged to set up individual retirement accounts, and that they accept a reduced holiday allotment.

Redco management has consistently refused to negotiate constructively, and has responded to the strike by bringing in scabs to maintain the machines and using management to keep them running.

The union is fighting back. BCTGM pickets have held the line all through the end-of-year holidays and winter´┐Żs worst.

You can support their struggle by sending a message to Teekanne's CEO, urging him to instruct US management to return to the bargaining table and negotiate in good faith for a mutually acceptable agreement that recognizes and respects the rights of the company's US workers.

You can send your message to Germany and support the strikers by clicking here. Copies will be automatically sent to the BCTGM and to the IUF secretariat.

BCTGM and the IUF thank you for your help!