WASHINGTON, Jan. 20, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Teamsters Local 997 members at Danone's (EPN:BN) Fort Worth, Texas, plant have ratified an agreement with the company, gaining participation in the Western Conference of Teamsters Pension Fund (WCTPF), the largest multi-employer pension plan in the United States. The three-year agreement also includes wage increases and health care protections.
More than 100 Danone production, processing and maintenance workers with Local 997 will join 200,000 active plan participants at more than 1,600 employers across a broad cross-section of American industries.
"The Western Conference of Teamsters Pension Plan will allow me to retire with a supplement to my 401(k) and Social Security, easing the worry over whether I had saved enough money for retirement. Plus, I know it will help younger workers plan for their future," said Ernie Tobias, a 30-year Maintenance Department worker at Danone.
Danone, a Spanish-French company, is the second-largest dairy firm in the world after Nestlé.
Teamster officials assert that among multinational companies operating in North America, Danone continues to take appropriate steps to establish a model labor-management regime, and to emerge from the herd as an exemplary company.
"Without question, we are in a bare-knuckled fight for the future viability of good American middle class jobs," said Rome Aloise, Teamsters International Vice President and Dairy Division Director. "However, what we are seeing in the dairy and food sector with a power-house player like Danone is that there is a constructive way forward that simultaneously advances the health and well-being of a company, as well as the employees that are the ultimate bottom line in its long-term success. The promise of a secure retirement—a pension—which this agreement provides, is essential."
"Contract negotiations are never easy," said Art Burns, Teamsters Local 997 Secretary-Treasurer and lead negotiator. "While we have to fight hard for everything we get, we would be remiss if we didn't recognize that Danone is demonstrating vision and leadership by agreeing to what must become an industry standard."
There have been significant shifts in the dairy industry during the last decade. Dairy infrastructure in the United States, along with many of the nation's other agriculture sectors, has seen a substantial increase in foreign ownership.
"In a competitive global marketplace, a consistently important factor is labor standards and how workers are treated. The Teamsters will continue to make our case to consumers and policymakers alike, weighing in on ill-advised trade proposals such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). These economic schemes seek to cover swaths of the world's population and deeply involve just about every multinational corporation one can name," Aloise said.
Aloise noted that while Danone is partnering with its work force in Texas to establish a fair bar, many other global companies – particularly in the food and beverage sectors – have a long way to go to meet that example.
Aloise, who has been at the forefront of crafting regional work and benefit standards in Northern California for shuttle drivers at Silicon Valley companies such as Facebook, Google and Apple, maintained that a tipping point for securing Teamster-won health care and retirement benefits for many more American workers at some of the world's largest companies may not be that far off in the future.
Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents 1.4 million hardworking men and women throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Visit www.teamster.org for more information. Follow us on Twitter @Teamsters and "like" us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/teamsters.
Kara Deniz, (202) 497-6610
SOURCE International Brotherhood of Teamsters