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More than 200 Teamsters union workers at ADM ratify new contract

ADM is a food processor and commodity trading corporation headquartered in Chicago, Illinois. More than two hundred workers at the Cedar Rapids plant ratified a new 3-year contract Tuesday morning.
Zachary Oren Smith
ADM is a food processor and commodity trading corporation headquartered in Chicago, Illinois. More than 200 workers at the Cedar Rapids plant ratified a new three-year contract Tuesday morning.

Union workers at a grain processor in Cedar Rapids said "yes" to a new contract, avoiding a potential strike. ADM workers win a pay bump, a bonus and the first sick days some have seen in years.

Jeff Sprague has worked the Archer Daniels Midland Company’s plant in Cedar Rapids since the early 2000s. And on Tuesday, he and his more than 200 coworkers agreed to a contract with ADM.

"There's no real true victory," Sprague said. "These are very hard times. A lot of people are having trouble making ends meet on just the basics of life: food, a place to live and a car to get to work."

The new deal came with a 6 percent pay bump, a $5,000 bonus, 8 additional hours of personal leave time and the first sick days Spargue has seen in the last two decades.

IPR News reached out to ADM about the contract ratification. It returned a statement:

"We are pleased that union members accepted the extremely competitive proposal we put forward and we were able to reach a satisfactory resolution," wrote ADM spokesperson Jackie Anderson.

Jesse Case, the secretary-treasurer of Teamsters Local 238, called the agreement "historic." The old contract expired Monday at midnight. That night, the Teamsters said they were prepared to strike if negotiations didn't go their way. Their stance has been that wages at ADM haven’t kept up the cost of living. Last quarter, ADM reported a 21 percent increase in year-over-year revenue.

"ADM's multi-billion dollar profit margin exists off the labor and sweat of working Iowans and CEO pay remains out of alignment with the workers who make the company profitable," Case said.

Todd Grimm has worked at ADM for eight years and was on the bargaining committee. He said he hoped the contract brought some momentum to the more than 100 workers still on strike at a nearby Ingredion plant. Workers at fellow Cedar Rapids corn processor Ingredion have been on strike since August over proposed changes in insurance and the elimination of positions.

“Not only was I here to help our brothers in this union, but I really wanted to help our brothers that are on strike down the street from us with Ingredion," Grimm said. "I’m hoping this helps them get what they’re after. That is the big thing: We aren’t just here to help our brothers and sisters. We are here to help others and set a precedent that it is our time.”

Zachary Oren Smith is a reporter covering Eastern Iowa