DECATUR — As talks with Archer Daniels Midland Co. show some signs of movement, striking workers launched an information campaign Monday to give the public their side of what’s going on.
The 40-strong members of Teamsters Local 916 have been out for almost two weeks seeking better pay. Union leaders said their negotiators are scheduled to sit down with ADM on Tuesday for a new round of face-to-face negotiations.
Local 916 members, who run the company’s vast power plant in Decatur, have asked for 12% raises over three years. Kyle Bollinger, a business agent for the union, said the closest ADM has got to that so far is 10% over three years.
“That was their last, best and final take-it-or-leave-it contract offer,” he said while manning a picket nearby the power plant on Monday afternoon.
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But in hundreds of leaflets handed out to passers-by entitled “Another Dollar Made off you!" the union said ADM has deep enough pockets to do much better.
In a series of bullet points, the Teamsters point to the fact ADM made $100 billion in revenue last year and profits jumped 26% over the previous year.
The union said ADM’s revenue comes in at the rate of $190,258.75 a minute. It says the 4% wage raise its workers want over the course of three years would cost the company 0.004 cents a minute for those three years.
“ADM is making money hand over fist,” said Bollinger. “And the information we are handing out today breaks that down for the public so that they can see how little we’re asking for in comparison to how good the company is doing.”
A request for comment to ADM was made late Monday but not immediately returned. In a previous media statement, spokesman Dane Lisser told the Herald & Review that ADM had offered “an extremely competitive proposal” and “continued to negotiate in good faith.”
Local 916 Vice President Jerrime Hiser said the union membership would stand firm and united until they won the fair deal they deserved. “Our guys are doing great, better than we could ask for,” he said.
Contract talks are also continuing between the United Auto Workers and Caterpillar Inc., as the current contract is set to expire March 1 and the union is gearing up for potential strike action.
The UAW Local 751 membership based in Decatur recently voted by 98.6% to authorize strike action if necessary. Its latest move was calling in its more than 2,000-strong membership to sign up for picket duty just in case.
Pictures posted on the Local’s Facebook page show vehicles jammed into the union's East Geddes Avenue headquarters for the recent picket sign-up effort. The Facebook page also featured pictures of Local 916 manning their picket lines and expressed solidarity with their union brothers and sisters.