Loudon plant workers vote to strike
Plant employees are bracing for a possible strike.

Viskase is a Loudon County company that makes sausage casings.
Reporter: Amber Miller

LOUDON, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Plant employees are bracing for a possible strike.

Viskase is a Loudon County company that makes sausage casings.


The plant has more than 200 employees and whether they're salary or union, a strike is going to impact them all.

Salary employees expect to work around the clock to keep the plant running if the strike happens; More than 170 union members, meanwhile, will take to the picket lines.

The vote came in Monday night and already, there's a sign at the union hall proudly displayed:

"The membership of local 2544 voted overwhelmingly to go on strike. We have a contract till Thursday September 30, 2010, 12:00 p.m."

On Tuesday, Viskase confirmed the pending walk-out, saying: Viskase Companies, Inc. has been engaged in continuing negotiations for the past several weeks with the IAM&AW Local Lodge 2544. The company made a final offer to the union which was fair and answered the union's concerns in the current economic climate. We are disappointed that the offer was rejected by the union membership. We hope that any labor dispute will be short lived. Viskase intends to continue to service our customers.

To find out what the disagreement is over, we visited the union hall, but were met with workers unwilling to talk.

Instead, George Mays the Business Representative gave us this statement: We've been in negotiations with Viskase for a couple of weeks and we got a final offer. Yesterday evening the membership of the local union rejected it and voted to strike. We will be talking with the company in effort to resolve the dispute.

Outsiders-- like Subway manager Jennifer Viars, who works across the street from Viskase-- are worried about the trickle down effect.

"If they're not working, they're not getting a paycheck and they're not going to come in and eat," Viars told Volunteer TV.

As she works, she's thinking back to the last Viskase strike in the 1970's

"My grandmother actually worked over there and business went way down, so she was laid off for quiet a while," Viars recalled. "Christmas was really bad that year. Not a very happy time."

She says Loudon County doesn't need to go through that again.
She's hoping the union won't strike, but if they do she says she'll be supportive because she wants her customers back.

"If we're slow, [I'll] stand out and wave at them. Cheer them on."

The last strike, lasted seven weeks.

There's still a chance the company and union will come to an agreement.

One union employee told us they're frustrated with the proposed health care plan and freezing pensions