Viskase workers OK contract, end Loudon strike
Hugh G. Willett knoxnews.com
LOUDON — Workers at the Viskase plant in Loudon have returned to their jobs after walking out on strike nearly two weeks ago.
According to Jerry Benson, a representative for the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Local 2544, an agreement was reached Sunday night after weeks of negotiation.
The 189 hourly workers had rejected the company’s previous offer, and voted instead to go on strike.
But the workers voted 88 to 69 to accept the new Viskase offer, he said.
“The members are glad to be going back to work and look forward to working with the company,” he said.
Benson said the union was able to negotiate a bonus for workers in the next year and some improvements in medical benefits.
The contract negotiations had been stalled over issues such as loss of the company match for the 401(k) pension plan, and reduced health benefits.
A spokesperson for Viskase said the company had no comment at this time.
In 2010, workers threatened to go on strike after rejecting a contract proposal, but the issue was settled through negotiations.
Viskase, headquartered in Darien, Ill., manufactures cellulose, fibrous and plastic casings used to wrap food items like sausages and other meats. The company has operated the Loudon plant since the 1950s.