September 19, 2016
By Tara Jessup, LaborPress USA
Vineland, NJ – UFCW Local 152, representing the majority of workers at the soon-to-close General Mills Progresso plant in Vineland, N.J., has concluded negotiations with the company, securing increased severance packages for its members at the facility.
The severance packages include improved pension accruals and a stipulation that General Mills/Progresso will continue to contribute to the workers’ health care trust fund after the plant closes at the end of summer 2017. Local 152 represents 270 of the 370 workers at the plant.
Local 152 President Brian String said he was disappointed that the company could not be dissuaded from closing the facility.
“The company never came to us with a monetary amount to keep the plant open and running,” he said. “But we realize that, at the end of the day, this decision was not about labor costs and instead about moving production to another plant.”
The union met with General Mills executives in recent weeks to explore options for keeping operations in Cumberland County. Just two months prior to the plant closure announcement on July 21, Local 152’s members ratified a new four-year contract with the employer.
String said Local 152 is organizing job fairs within the next 30 days to connect workers affected by the closure with other union employers in the area. The union is also looking for potential buyers for the plant to potentially keep jobs in the region.
“We’ve been proud to represent our members at the General Mills/Progresso plant,” String said.
“It’s very sad that the company has decided to make this decision permanent,” he said. “It will greatly affect the region of Cumberland County.”