King’s Material employees go on strike after failed wage negotiations
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Truck drivers for King’s Material have stopped working following a two-week negotiation with their employers. Between inflation and competitive wages in the industry, they say their base pay isn’t enough.
As trucks continued to go in and out of the King’s Material gates Monday morning, dozens of their employees stood outside.
“I think all the drivers should be able to afford their rent or mortgage every month, take a vacation once a year, and right now with the wages we’re currently getting, we can’t do that,” said Jim Hoyt.
He’s been a cement truck driver for the company for over 25 years. After his coworkers spent weeks trying to negotiate a higher pay, he says enough is enough.
“The drivers rejected the first offer. They gave us another offer, verbally, and the drivers rejected that one too,” said Hoyt.
He says that first offer was higher than their base pay which currently sits at $22.45 per hour. But in their eyes, it still wasn’t enough.
“We think $25.45 is the number to keep up with inflation and people’s spending power,” said Teamsters Local 238 Secretary-Treasurer Jesse Case.
He says they continue to talk with the company in an attempt to reach a negotiation.
“I think both sides have made it clear that we want to keep the lines of communication open. We’re really not that far apart in some aspects, but what we don’t want to do is everyone to dig in their heels and make it impossible to find a resolution,” said Case.
King’s Material’s Charlie Rohde released a statement in response to the strike.
“We are disappointed to have not reached an agreement. We have always had a wage and fringe benefit package that is fair and equitable to our team, and our offers have reflected that,” Rohde said in the statement. “This labor dispute solely impacts our King’s Ready Mix division in Cedar Rapids and has no impact on our masonry and landscape divisions. During this time, we will continue to serve all customers across the King’s Material organization.”
But until they reach what the protestors are calling “fair wages”, the workers say they plan to come back to the picket line every day.
“Our members are dug in for the long haul. We hope to get a quick resolution,” said Case.
Rohde says that many of King’s Material’s operations are continuing as usual despite the protests. But one major project at the Heart Center at Mercy Medical Center has been put on hold.
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