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Cedar Rapids union at standstill with Ingredion

Ingredion Strike.jpg
Zachary Oren Smith
The union workers at Ingredion's Cedar Rapids plant have been negotiating for a better contract. Union members and supporters held a rally on Thursday to mark the first month of the strike.

The labor strike at a grain processor in Cedar Rapids has hit one month. Workers rallied to bring attention to their effort to negotiate a contract union members can accept.

It’s been a month since 122 workers at a grain processing plant in Cedar Rapids went on strike.

On Thursday, union members, families and community members met outside the gates of Ingredion to decry what they called "bad-faith" attempts by the company to remove benefits and positions as they negotiate for a new contract.

At this point, members of Local 100G of the Baking, Confectionery, Tobacco, and Grain Milling union have felt the pain of the first missed paycheck.

“It’s getting tougher. We went through one paycheck: the first paycheck people missed. People are getting a little nervous, but all my members are holding strong," said Mike Moore, the union's president.

Moore said donations from the community and from union members across the country dulled some of that pain, helping pay bills and feed families.

Liz Mathis Ingredion Rally
Zachary Oren Smith
Democratic congressional candidate Liz Mathis speaks at the Ingredion union rally on Thursday. Mathis is running against Republican incumbent Rep. Ashley Hinson.

Union member Elaine Sweigwer has worked at Ingredion for 27 years. The mother of three said as hard as it’s been, community support has kept her going.

“As stressful as this has been, I just want to thank everybody and all the support we’ve gotten in the community," Sweigwer said. "I cannot tell you how much this is helping me personally and everyone else get through this"

According to Moore, the negotiation teams last met on Wednesday but no agreement was reached. Negotiations began in June. The last time union members were on strike against Ingredion in 2004, the picket lasted 78 days.

IPR reached out to Ingredion about the rally but had not received a response by midday Friday.

During the pandemic, Illinois-based Ingredion benefited from a workforce in Iowa that was considered essential and therefore not subject to the same shelter-in-place orders others were. According to the company's 2nd quarter fiscal filings, gross profits increased by 6 percent since the previous year.

Zachary Oren Smith is a reporter covering Eastern Iowa