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Seven more Maple City Ice drivers walk out

• Updated Sep 11, 2017 at 10:56 AM

The strike by eight Maple City Ice drivers hit day 11 today and the strikers were joined by the seven other union drivers at the plant.

Picketers had moved down U.S. 20 this morning where Maple City trucks were parked overnight.

Union representatives said this morning there are 15 union drivers at the beer distributorship but are under different contracts with the Teamsters Local 20. The seven drivers not on strike have the option to honor the eight who are on strike, the union rep said.

The strike is now heading into its second full work week.

“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 when the strike started.

“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 early on 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.”

That was before the seven other union drivers walked out.

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.”

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