Nearly 80 Twin Cities warehouse employees are on strike against Murphy Warehouse Co., which provides services for companies such as Andersen Windows and Dakota Growers.
The Teamsters work at seven of the company's locations across the Twin Cities, and Local 120 said Murphy's contract offer is unfair, particularly when it comes to health care benefits.
"This is corporate greed at its worst. The [health care] costs went down and they are still demanding our members agree to triple their out of pocket? It's outrageous," said Tom Erickson, president of the local, in a statement.
Richard Murphy Jr., owner of Murphy Warehouse, said this is the first strike he has dealt with in his career and can't understand the impasse or where the union is getting its numbers.
"Things were going well. We've always had a very good relationship with the Teamsters," he said. "In fact, we have been held up as a model company," because there have been few grievances and other issues up until now.
Grant Bendix, business manager for Local 120, said three months ago he would have said it was one of the Teamsters' best relationships, too. But he said the bargaining became adversarial, and while the union welcomed Murphy to step in and explain his positions, he has not. The company, Bendix said, walked away from the negotiations.
Right now, the Teamsters members do not pay premiums for insurance, Murphy said. The company is asking that members pay what the other 110 or so nonunion employees do: $15 per pay period for a single plan by the third year of the contract and $45 a pay period for a family plan. Deductibles are $300 for single plans and $600 for family plans.
The company, Murphy said, is offering a contract-signing bonus of $1,000 and a $1.50 an hour pay raise the first year, with another 75 cents and 50 cents added during the second and third year of the contract, respectively. The contract also gives an additional floating holiday and the ability to float 40 hours of paid time off into the next year, both of which the union requested.
"I'm very disappointed in the disinformation," Murphy said, adding that his company is the only unionized third-party logistics company left in the Twin Cities. "There are some outright lies being perpetuated."
The union said the health care proposal is unacceptable because it triples employee cost, even though the overall cost to the company for the plan went down this year. The union is counting a change from copay to 20% out-of-pocket costs, Bendix said.
He said workers have "sacrificed wages over the years for this benefit."
"These people love this company," he said. "They're sad to be out there. But they don't understand why this is being demanded of them."
The union said the Teamsters bargaining committee asked why the health care costs were going up, and the members were told that it is a "pet peeve" of Murphy that employees have good coverage.
Jason Cadalbert, who has worked at Murphy Warehouse for 20 years, said the offer and the company's conduct during management has been "offensive."
"We've always been a family here, but this time around they are choosing to spend tons of money on multiple attorneys and consultants, instead of just giving a fair offer to us," Cadalbert said. "We aren't greedy, but we need to be able to take care of our families. I just don't know why they are doing this to us."