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Redland Brick, workers reach impasse

July 23, 1999|By SCOTT BUTKI

WILLIAMSPORT - Redland Brick Co. will hire more replacement workers after striking union employees decided Friday not to even vote on an offered contract, said the company president.

Redland President and CEO James Vinke had warned strikers he would hire replacements unless the contract was approved Friday. The contract was withdrawn after sitting on the table since June.

Redland has been shut down since June 18, when members of Teamsters Local 992 voted to strike after their contract with the company expired.

Only two of about 75 workers at a meeting Friday wanted to vote on the contract, said George Woods, union treasurer and secretary.

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The company already has hired some temporary workers to ship bricks and pavers to customers but no new stock has been made since the strike began. Vinke has not said how much the company has lost due to the strike.

A "substantial number" of new employees will be hired, Vinke said Friday, but he refused to be more specific. The company usually has about 105 employees, he said.

Some prospective employees already are being interviewed, he said. It will be about three weeks before they start, he said.

Union members are not worried about the company hiring more employees, Woods said. He questioned whether the company would be able to find enough interested workers.

The company is ready to resume negotiations for the 103 union workers, Vinke said.

"I hope that is reasonably soon. We are ready and willing to meet," he said.

The next contract offer may be less "generous," Vinke said. Future company offers will factor in money the company has lost as a result of the strike, he said.

Woods said the contract dispute is about three main issues: absenteeism, vacation days and retiree benefits.

He said the union offered this week to have employees return to work as long as negotiations continued.

But Vinke said that offer contained conditions that were "completely unacceptable." It included requiring the company to rehire employees fired for conduct unrelated to the strike, he said.

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