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'Strike is over' after 5 months

Cary Ashby • Updated Jan 31, 2018 at 10:27 AM

The lengthy strike by members of Teamsters’ Union Local 20 at Maple City Ice Co. is over.

Maple City Ice President Pat Hipp confirmed the situation in an email sent Tuesday to the Reflector.

“The Maple City Ice Co. strike is over. The Teamsters union representing the striking workers made an unconditional offer to return to work effective Monday, Jan. 29, 2018, which the company accepted. Thank you to our many loyal employees and customers who supported us during this time,” she wrote.

Teamsters representatives have been unavailable for comment this week.

The shelter for striking drivers on the corner of the Maple City Ice property has been taken down. It went up about Sept. 1 and had been manned 24 hours a day, seven days a week since the beginning of the strike. As the weather got colder, the men used a burn barrel.

Signs posted by Teamsters members and Maple City Ice no longer line Cleveland Road.

At the center of the five-month strike was the failing Central States Pension Plan.

As many as 15 drivers were on strike at one point. One driver, in mid-November, said the striking drivers were in it for the long haul.

About Day 35 of the strike, Hipp said Maple City was “continuing to deliver beer to all of our accounts, with the help of family members and friends.” 

The drivers had said they have earned the money the company puts into the pension plan. Hipp once said Maple City Ice doesn’t want to throw money into a failing plan.

One driver had said the drivers gave up pay-raises for pension money during the last three contracts. He also said that amounted to $8,300 of their money — not Maple City Ice’s — that goes into the Central States pension plan per year.

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), in the fall, joined U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio-13th district) and Ohio retirees at Teamsters Local 377 in Youngstown to announce Brown’s plans to introduce legislation intended to ensure Ohio retirees can keep the pensions they have earned.

Despite not working, the drivers on the picket line received what’s known as strike pay.

“You had to be off 11 days and then it kicks in,” a union member said earlier.

The two sides met three times in September for negotiating sessions. It’s unknown when, or if, they met again.

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