Bellingham Cold Storage Teamsters On Brink of Strike
Strike by over 100 workers will cripple food supply chain in northern Washington
Teamsters Local 231 members at Bellingham Cold Storage (BCS) have voted unanimously to authorize a strike against their employer, after months of contract negotiations have led nowhere. The group of more than a hundred workers receive product from ships, run forklifts, and work in cold storage warehouses in Bellingham, Washington. These workers are a critical part of the supply chain for perishables, and if they were to strike, there would be a severe impact on the food supply chain.
Negotiations for a new contract started in November of 2020, and since then the two sides have met more than 20 times, despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. However, even against the backdrop of a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic, BCS has insisted that healthcare for their hardworking employees is a luxury they do not deserve. Managers from the Company, which was recently bought by Seattle-based investment firm Joshua Green Corporation, approached the Teamsters with an insulting offer that would force our members to pay an absurd amount of their medical premiums out-of-pocket. When Teamster leadership demanded to know why the Company would make such an offer, Joshua Green Corporation Executive Vice-President Aaron Singleton admitted the Company’s goal was to invite government subsidies of their employees’ healthcare, saying “we want to incentivize our employees to seek other options for covering their dependents, such as Apple Health.” Although the Employer has since modified their medical proposal, Management’s offers on pension and wage increases were similarly insulting and demonstrated a complete lack of respect for the work their employees perform each day.
“We are reasonable people, but there was nothing remotely reasonable about BCS’s contract offer – and our group is more than willing to strike to prove that,” said Teamsters Local 231 Secretary-Treasurer Rich Ewing. “This investment company wants to make money, but we will not allow them to make that money by scooping it out of our members’ pockets. These Teamsters are not rich, but they work hard and they deserve to be respected and compensated for that. To say they should seek government-subsidized healthcare is insulting beyond words.”
“Approximately 80% of the membership attended the strike authorization vote, and the vote was unanimous,” Ewing continued. “I think this tells BCS management everything they need to know. A strike is always a last resort, but if that’s what our members need to do to get respect, then believe me, we will head to the street with picket signs.”
Founded in 1909, Teamsters Local 231 represents 2,200 members across a wide variety of industries.