More than 40 construction craft laborers of the Local 563 took to the picket lines on Wednesday, June 19, after negotiations between the union workers at the company’s Shakopee facility and Cretex broke down. Cretex failed to meet the request of its employees regarding fair wage and pension plans. Workers at the Shakopee facility have been working without a contract since December 31, 2012.

Negotiations broke down on June 18, when Cretex failed to budge from its unreasonable demand to eliminate pension contributions and slash workers’ retirement package by roughly 80 percent. Under the company’s proposal, employees would see hourly compensation (wage plus retirement contribution) drop by anywhere from $2.91 and $4.07 in 2013 depending on an employee’s age and the amount he or she puts into the company’s 401(k) plan.  Simply put that’s the equivalent of a 12- to 17-percent pay cut at a time when demand for construction materials is on the rise.

“This is a cold slap in our face,” Tim Mackey, business manager for Twin Cities-based Local 563 of the Laborers’ International Union of North America. “Our members had no other choice when their livelihoods were threatened by the greed of Cretex. This isn’t just about pensions; it’s about putting more money in the company’s pocket.”

Members of the Local 563 have been faithful employees at Cretex since at least 1986, where they manufacture everything from manhole covers to sewer pipe. “Simply put this is a money grab of corporate greed,” said Mackey. “Our members have been hard working, diligent employees for many years and this is the thanks they get. It is very disconcerting.”

This is not the first time Cretex has attacked the retirement benefits of its employees. The company has successfully taken away pension benefits from its employees at facilities in Iowa and North Dakota. “It is a sad day when a Minnesota-based company aims to ruin the economic futures of Minnesota employees,” said Mackey. “Our members will not be bullied, nor will we stand idly by while corporate greed threatens us.” Members of the Local 563 will remain on the picket line located at 7070 Cretex Avenue South, in Shakopee until the company is willing to negotiate in a respectable manner. “Their current offer slashes the retirement funds of our workers in a way that is unfair and will have severe ramifications on these worker’s futures,” said Mackey. “Nobody wants a strike but it is our next step in this process to make sure these union workers are treated fairly and honestly. We are in this for the long haul and we will leave no stone unturned as we fight for fair pay and benefits.”

About Local 563

Local 563 represents nearly 5,000 skilled construction craft laborers that are trained in many facets of the construction industry. These laborers apply their trade in 32 counties in Minnesota and the state of North Dakota. Local 563 is affiliated with Laborers’ International Union of North America LIUNA, based in Washington, D.C. For more information, visit Local 563 or their Facebook page

About Cretex Companies, Inc.

Cretex, established in 1917, is a privately held, diversified manufacturing company headquartered in Elk River , Minnesota. Cretex Concrete Products provides reinforced concrete pipe and other precast and prestressed concrete products serving the infrastructure needs of the central United States . Cretex Companies employs about 1,800 people in 35 locations in 11 states.

For more information contact Robb Leer at Leer Communications & Consultants

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