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Ice cream workers approve contract

August 12, 2004|by BRIAN SHAPPELL

shappell@herald-mail.com

Larry Lorshbaugh, president of Local 9386 of the United Steelworkers of America, said he was exhausted but happy Wednesday because local employees of Good Humor-Breyer's Ice Cream Inc. voted to accept a new contract.

As a result of Wednesday's vote, there would be no strike starting at midnight, he said.

With the strike deadline looming, workers voted 315-61 in favor of a five-year contract, Lorshbaugh said as workers filed out of the Knights of Columbus building on Leitersburg Pike.

Lorshbaugh, whose union is the bargaining agent for about 450 employees, said a strike would have commenced had workers rejected the contract.

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"We'd have been on the picket line by midnight," Lorshbaugh said. "Tonight was it."

Ken Wells, local plant manager, and company officials at the corporate office in Green Bay, Wis., could not be reached for comment Wednesday evening.

Workers on Friday voted down a contract offer.

Workers voted against the offer Friday because they wanted one additional, incentive-based personal day, an 8-percent cap annually on health insurance increases and contract language to keep work at the Frederick Street plant, Lorshbaugh said.

He said all were included in the contract offer from the company voted on Wednesday.

Rock Wetzel, a 19-year employee and a member of the negotiating committee, said his top priorities were improving workers' rights to file grievances and restricting the outsourcing of work to plants outside the area.

"We wanted to make the plant safe and economical, so nobody was left hanging out to dry," he said.

Robert Shaw, an employee of nearly 10 years, said he was relieved that the company established a cap for health insurance increases.

"Without a cap, I was going to pay at least $13 more per check," Shaw said.

Brian Hull, a 16-year employee at the Frederick Street plant, was one of several employees who left the Knights of Columbus building with a smile.

"All's well that ends well," he said.

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