It could be two very different stories for employees of two of Cedar Rapids' biggest employers who are represented by the same union. Quaker Oats employees appear on the verge of a new contract, while General Mills workers look to be even closer to a strike. Let's start with General Mills.

Hold on to your Cheerios, Cedar Rapids...your Lucky Charms could really get rung if a labor strike knocks out workers at General Mills, and it's going into the final round tomorrow.

The RWDSU issued this press release on Tuesday afternoon, November 5, Election Day 2019. 

"On Thursday, October 31, 2019 General Mills presented a “last, best and final” offer to the members of Local 110 of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU). The offer did not include any real protections of a labor contract, and contains no significant raises, no maintenance of benefits over the term of the contract, and no other provisions that would support workers at the facility. The contract also seeks to install unfair scheduling practices, and third-party subcontracting that could move jobs from Cedar Rapids to non-union facilities nearby or abroad.

On October 3, 2019 workers voted to authorize a strike. Therefore, when General Mills presented their “last, best and final” offer, it triggered a contract vote – which will take place on Wednesday, November 6, 2019. Workers will have no other choice than; either voting for an empty contract or going on strike.

Workers at General Mills voted to join the RWDSU on January 9, 2019, winning the right to fair representation, a seat at the table and a real chance to stop the bleed out of their long-held benefits. Throughout the contract negotiations workers have been fighting for a voice and fair treatment in the workplace, as well as needed paid time off and fair wages. General Mills’ last offer provides almost nothing new for workers, has the potential for job losses, and unfair scheduling practices, which means the likelihood of a strike looms heavily."

In the next 24 hours, we'll know if this will go down as the Election Day Strike of 2019.

The recent GM Strike cost shareholders hundreds of millions. It's bad for business and it's bad for labor.

Let's hope both sides can find some breathing room to help themselves and each other.

Meanwhile, according to a separate release from the union, approximately 700 employees of the Local 110 of the RWDSU at Quaker Oats in Cedar Rapids have tentatively reached agreement on a new contract. The release states,

The worker-led negotiation committee worked tirelessly to secure a strong strong tentative agreement that guarantees annual wage increases. The committee will strongly recommend workers vote in favor of this agreement. The contract could be ratified as early as Thursday, (November 7).

The union says the contract would be for four years and includes:

  • Annual general hourly wage increases over the term of the contract equaling 10% over the proposed new four-year term, and workers will receive a signing bonus as well.
  • There were numerous improvements to the contract language, which will help workers on the job and with work-life balance.

The Quaker Oats press release from RWDSU says, "the negotiations committee expects it will be overwhelmingly ratified."

The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) represents 100,000 members throughout the United States. The RWDSU is affiliated with the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW).

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