MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Nearly 200 unionized soy protein workers with IFF are continuing a nearly three month strike in Memphis.
Since June 4, workers with the BCTGM Local 390-G union have been picketing outside the IFF facility on South Mendenhall Road.
On Aug. 30, Congressman Steve Cohen joined the striking workers on the picket line. City leaders joined them June 15, and Tennessee State Rep. Justin Pearson joined the workers on July 26.
They are demanding that the International Flavors and Fragrances company come up with better contract terms. Workers claim the company is striping overtime pay after eight hours, raising the costs of benefits, and giving a 30-day notice to add or take away benefits.
“The company's been dealing in bad faith as far as negotiations. We're just trying to get a fair contract. Right now, what they're trying to do is take away all the benefits we have and have complete control over them, so if we don't fight now, there's a possibility we could lose our union,” said union president Cedric Wilson.
"Regular people will stop by, they'll park their car and they'll just say, 'Hey, we support what you're doing man, ya'll stay strong, we know it's rough out here,'" said IFF worker Jerry Wilkerson during the third week of the strike, which happened during storms in Memphis. "We're out here all night through the storms. We had some pretty severe storms the other night, blew all our tents away, tore all our stuff up. We regrouped in a couple hours and we still at it."
IFF responded previously to the strike, saying, "We are disappointed by the union's decision to strike, although we recognize the employees’ right to do so. The Company presented a comprehensive compensation and benefits package which includes wage increases over the next three years, and many new medical and paid time-off benefits. We remain committed to reaching a fair and competitive contract which recognizes the important work of our employees and helps ensure the long-term success of our company. Although we will not negotiate with the union through the media, we will continue to negotiate in good faith and hope we can reach an agreement soon."