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It's time for strikers to get back to work

By Joe Centers • Updated Nov 13, 2017 at 9:39 PM

This is Day 75 of the drivers’ strike at Maple City Ice.

I talked to one of the drivers Friday night and he told me they are in it for the long haul.

In other words, this could be far from over.

I drove by the strikers’ hut in front of Maple City Ice on Monday morning and it was all buttoned up — they aren’t going to let the cold weather get them down.

There has been little, if any, progress made in the strike.

This has been a tough strike for everybody. It started with eight drivers, then seven others joined in. At latest count, there are about a dozen strikers on the line. Many of the people on both sides of the strike are related. This could make for a very tough Thanksgiving holiday.

Who is at fault? That is up for you to decide.

In the middle of it all is the failing Central States Teamsters Pension Plan. The drivers say they have earned the money the company puts into the plan. The company says it doesn’t want to throw money into a failing pension plan.

Again, it’s up to you to decide who is right and who is wrong.

I had one driver tell me the last three contracts they have given up pay raises for pension money. He said that amounts to $8,300 of their money, not the company’s money, that goes into the Central Fund per year.

But it is the company, ultimately, that signs the check.

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) joined U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio-13the 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.

Numerous Ohio pension plans, including the massive Central States Teamsters Pension Plan, the United Mine Workers Pension Plan, Ironworkers Local 17 Pension Plan, Ohio Southwest Carpenters Pension Plan and Bakers and Confectioners Pension Plan currently are on the brink of failure and threatened by massive cuts.

“It’s bad enough that Wall Street squandered workers’ money — and it’s worse that the government that’s supposed to look out for these folks is trying to break the promise made to these workers. Not on our watch. We won’t allow that to happen,” Brown said.

“Hardworking Americans are the true profit creators in our country,” Ryan said. “Their work is why any company is able to earn a profit. Pensions are not ‘benefits’ given as a gift from employer to employee; they are payment for work that was already done – and neither government nor business has the right to take them away. We in Congress must be doing everything in our power to protect the retirement these Americans have earned.”

Who do you back in this strike? That’s up to you.

I just hope both sides can come together and these guys can back to work and start delivering beer again.

Nobody wins when workers aren’t working.

Joe Centers is Reflector managing editor. He can be reached at jcenters@norwalkreflector.com.

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