General Mills union avoids strike for now

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Negotiation talks continue between General Mills and a union which represents more than 500 employees at its Cedar Rapids facility. Earlier this week, 99% of the union members who voted said "no" to a contract the company called its "last, best, and final" offer.

The General Mills production facility in Cedar Rapids on Friday, Nov. 1, 2019 (Jackie Kennon/KCRG)

The union and company met again Thursday after the vote on Wednesday to negotiate.

In the company's latest offer, the union said it did not include a significant pay increase, did not allow employees to maintain their benefits and took away overtime and premium pay.

Members claimed there were four parts of the contract that need to change before an agreement. The union has never specified what those parts included and said its employees would walk out if the company could not meet is requests.

"After our initial conversations with General Mills, in the wake of voting down the bad contract this week, we are confident we have movement on our top four issues with the contract and that real negotiations can resume," said RWDSU Vice President Roger Grobstich in a release Thursday night. "We look forward to rebuilding a productive relationship with the company and hope to report a strong contract soon."

This is the first contract the RWDSU Local 110 is negotiating with General Mills. About 520 workers joined the union in January 2019. Members say that by standing together and showing the real impact this could have on families, they have shown what having a union is all about.

In previous statements to KCRG-TV9, General Mills said it respects the employees' ability to strike but hopes they choose to ratify an offer.