About 155 Teamsters members are on strike against Friendship Dairies Inc. in Allegany County after rejecting proposals to replace their contract that expired Saturday, union officials said today.
The workers called the strike Wednesday at the maker of yogurt, sour cream and other dairy products against the advice of their bargaining committee and the leadership of Teamsters Local 264, business representative Ed McDonald said.
"I think there was an undertone of issues that weren't to do with the contract," he said. Workers are putting in six-day weeks and heavy overtime, and say they often can't get time off for personal and family matters.
The sticking points involved proposed co-pays for some doctors appointments and emergency room visits. Difficulty getting time off exacerbated the issues, McDonald said.
Pickets went up Wednesday at the plant in Friendship, about 50 miles southeast of Buffalo, but the dairy continues to operate, McDonald said.
The company has said it will hire permanent replacements but the union is seeking to reschedule negotiations with a federal mediator, McDonald said.
Company officials could not be reached, and a receptionist said they would have no comment.
The family-owned company produces dairy products for private labels as well as selling under the Friendship Dairies name.
Teamsters Local 264 in Buffalo represents cheese packers, sour cream operators, maintenance and other workers. The average wage is about $10.50 to $11 an hour, plus benefits, McDonald said.