The Teamster Union Local 20 drivers sat outside Maple City Ice with lawn chairs and picket signs noting they were on strike.
“We’ve been in negotiation since the end of February and the reason we’re out here is the pension,” Union treasurer Mark Schmiehusen said.
“The company wants to stop making contributions to the pension fund. It’s not over wages or healthcare and we’ve gotten nowhere with the company. They basically drew the line in the sand, and said ‘We’re not paying anymore into your pension fund. If you don’t like it, get out.’”
The company, which is owned by the Hipp family, released a statement Friday afternoon stating it was business as usual, despite having fewer hands on deck.
“Maple City Ice Company has about 100 employees working out of locations in Norwalk, Elyria and Mansfield,” the prepared statement said. “Only eight delivery drivers in Norwalk, who are members of the Teamsters union, are on strike. All of our locations, including Norwalk, are open for business, and we will continue to sell and deliver beer as usual.”
Schmiehusen said Maple City Ice wanted out of the pension fund because “they believe it will be insolvent by the year 2025 and with the current withdraw liability, they’re looking to get out.” He said this isn’t fair to his men who “earned” that money.
“These men all have 25, 30 years of service they’ve worked for that pension,” he said. “They’re good members and employees and they deserve what’s coming to them.”
Schmiehusen said the only resolution would be for the company to pay into the pension again.
“That’s eight of their drivers, of course that’s going to make an impact,” Schmiehusen said. “In fact these men aren’t out there making a wage and paying into their benefits. ... No strike is good, but in the end it’s a give and take.”