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Alana Roberts

Linen Company's Drivers Returning to Work After Strike

6 January 2005

LAS VEGAS -- Teamster truck drivers are set to return to work today at Mission Industries after voting overwhelmingly to ratify a three-year contract agreement with the linen company on Wednesday.

The ratification vote officially ended a four-day strike. The strike was the result of a dispute between the company and the union over the amount the workers would contribute to health care costs, Gary Mauger, secretary-treasurer of Teamsters Local 14.

Picketing ended Tuesday evening after the company and the union reached a tentative contract agreement. Negotiations between the company and the union began in November and the contract expired on Friday.

The truck drivers voted 99-2 in favor of the new deal, Mauger said. The ratification vote took place Wednesday morning at the union's hall on Burnham Avenue.

The workers had rejected previous company contract proposals last Thursday and Friday and began striking at midnight on Friday.

Mauger said the contract offers workers a 50 percent contribution by the company toward health care costs instead of a 30 percent contribution it had previously proposed. He said that means the workers will pay $139 a month by the end of the three-year contract in health care contributions. That amount includes the $54 a month the workers are now paying for health care coverage.

In the previous contract proposal, the workers would have paid $201 a month in health care contributions by the end of the contract.

The workers make between $16 and $19.17 an hour and will gain a three percent raise in the first year of the contract and 2 1/2 percent raises in the second and third years of the contract, Mauger said. Wages were not a point of contention in the negotiations process, he said.

Mauger said the agreement was reached with the help of a mediator from the Federal Mediation & Conciliation Service.

"I have to thank the mediator," Mauger said. "We both went back to the table willing to get a contract."

Mauger also said the fact that D. W. Doc Wiener, president and chief operating officer of Mission Industries, was present during Tuesday's negotiation session, helped facilitate the resolution.

Neither Wiener or David Spurlock Jr., the company's general counsel, could be reached for comment Wednesday afternoon.

The drivers themselves said they were pleased with the most recent contract.

Eric Jaeger, a member of the union and a driver for Mission Industries for 10 years, said the contract is good for the workers.

"They picked up more of the health care," Jaeger said. "They finally came through."