Danville Viscofan workers go on strike over wage freeze, short-notice overtime

Viscofan employees who are members of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 686 wave to a passing vehicle that was honking in support of their walk out that began Friday morning, June 21, 2019 outside the company's plant on Michigan Avenue in Danville. Workers have been negotiating a new contract since January and walked off the job Friday in protest of wages, mandatory overtime and other issues.

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DANVILLE — More than 240 Viscofan employees were back on the job Monday after ratifying a new contract.

Members of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 686 approved a new agreement Sunday, bringing to end a strike that started Friday morning.

Union officials said the contract includes across-the-board wage increases, increased performance bonuses for every worker, no forced early call-ins for mandatory overtime and no new random drug testing, which union officials called “intrusive.”

“The men and women of Viscofan work hard every day to produce the high-quality products that have made this company successful,” union President Tim Miller said. “Thanks to our members standing together, we were able to achieve a better contract that provides workers with more time with their families and more time to give back to Danville.”

Kevin Dawson, Viscofan’s vice president for human resources, didn’t respond to a request for comment.

The union had been negotiating since January with the company that owns the meat-casings production facility that was formerly Teepak. Its previous contract expired in April.

The company and union extended that contract through the end of May, but the company didn’t want to offer an extension past then.

Union members walked out Friday, protesting a proposed wage freeze in the first year of a three-year deal, as well as mandatory short-notice overtime, which union officials said would take them away from their families and community obligations at a moment’s notice.

The company implemented a contingency plan to keep servicing the market.

Viscofan is a global meat-casing company based in Tajonar, Spain. It generated nearly $2 billion in revenue last year, according to union officials.

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Noelle McGee is a Danville-based reporter at The News-Gazette. Her email is nmcgee@news-gazette.com, and you can follow her on Twitter (@n_mcgee).