Amid contract dispute, union workers picket outside homes of General Mills leaders

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ROBINS, Iowa (KCRG) - Hundreds of employees at the Cedar Rapids General Mills plant could go on strike this week over failed contract negotiations.

Members of Local 110 of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) picket outside the General Mills plant manager's home in Robins on Nov. 4, 2019. (Mary Green/KCRG)

On Monday, many of them hoped to show the plant’s management that they’re fed up. Members of Local 110 of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) said General Mills’ contract offer isn’t fair.

Workers are looking to secure higher pay and hold on to their overtime and premium weekend pay, along with their healthcare and retirement benefits.

Union members said more than 300 people picketed in different places around the Cedar Rapids area on Monday night, including a group of more than 50 workers, who chanted and held signs outside the home of General Mills’ plant manager in Robins.

“We’re out letting Rue Patel know, who’s the plant manager of General Mills, how unsatisfied we are with the last contract that the company had put across the table, how it affects our families,” RWDSU International Union Vice President Roger Grobstich said.

General Mills union members will meet Wednesday to vote on whether or not to accept the contract offer. If they don’t accept it, that could lead to a strike at the plant.

In a statement to KCRG-TV9, General Mills said, “General Mills has been a proud employer in the Cedar Rapids community for nearly 50 years providing great careers, benefits and competitive pay. General Mills and the RWDSU have met on many occasions. We provided a final offer at the Union’s request on October 31. We respect our employee’s ability to strike, but we hope they choose to ratify this offer.”

The Cedar Rapids Police Department said it did respond to a picketing complaint Monday night. Officer said the group was protesting lawfully. Authorities said protestors were going to be there until about 6 p.m. Officers reminded them to make sure that they stay on the sidewalks and do not block traffic.

Officers did not tell the picketers that they had to leave.