(Merrillville, IN) - Amid an ongoing labor strike in La Porte, MonoSol is defending its attempts to reconcile with employees.
On Thursday, the Merrillville-based company released a lengthy statement, singling out the misrepresentation of its offers by the La Porte local union, Teamsters Local 135. The entire statement is printed below.
In brief, it alleges that the union did not allow members in La Porte to vote on a favorable offer presented on November 29 and has misled MonoSol employees and the media.
The company says workers have been paid above-market wages, with most grossing over $75,000 per year. MonoSol's statement outlines what it believes is a generous healthcare and retirement plan. It also explains their offer to counter the effects of inflation, a proposal the company says was not presented to workers by union leadership. As for forced overtime, the crux of the labor dispute, MonoSol says last year 97% of the overtime was voluntary, and often caused by worker absenteeism.
On Wednesday, members of Local 135 protested in front of Procter & Gamble’s headquarters in Cincinnati. MonoSol supplies water-soluble packaging for several Procter & Gamble products.
Here is MonoSol's entire statement issued Thursday:
MonoSol today is addressing the status of contract negotiations with Teamsters Local 135 at its La Porte manufacturing plant.
We value all of our employees and recognize their efforts. Since its founding in 1953, MonoSol has invested heavily in our home state to build a company with a tremendous reputation for giving back to communities and for offering industry-leading pay and benefits.
We are deeply concerned that the union at our La Porte plant has decided to reject the Company’s final offer and what this means for our employees. We are especially concerned that the union did not allow our employees to vote on our November 29 offer and continues to grossly misrepresent MonoSol’s proposals in statements to our employees and the media. Our employees deserve to have the information they need to make informed decisions for themselves and their families.
MonoSol’s top priority is to reach a contract. Employees covered by our proposed and previous contracts enjoy above-market wages, health and retirement benefits. Average 2021 gross wages, not including benefits, for the majority of our hourly employees in La Porte was more than $75,000. Twenty-eight percent earned more than $90,000. Ten percent earned $100,000 or more.
Employees also enjoy exceptional health insurance that is paid 90 percent by the company. The company pays $21,013.20 per family or $8,677.72 per employee. Additionally, the company contributes a fixed amount of $455 per month ($5,460 annually) to employees’ 401k accounts and further provides a dollar-for-dollar match on employee contributions up to 5% of gross pay.
Inflation is a concern for employees and companies alike. With the annual inflation rate for the United States at 7.7% for the 12 months ended October 2022, MonoSol’s offer of a 6.5% hourly increase in the first year, coupled with a $5,000 bonus, is nearly twice the rate of inflation.
The company’s alternative wage proposal on November 29, which the union did not present to our employees, further front-loaded the first-year increase to 9%, combined with the $5,000 bonus. That is more than double the current rate of inflation.
In 2021, MonoSol La Porte employees worked an average of 53.84 hours during each eight-day personal work schedule (equivalent to 47.11 hours per week). A standard four-days-on/four-days-off 12-hour work schedule, which is common in continuous operation manufacturing, includes 40 hours of straight time and eight hours of overtime.
The company distributes overtime according to the contract terms that the union negotiated for and agreed to more than four years ago: first to classified employees on a voluntary basis in order of seniority; then to employees on the qualified list on a voluntary basis in order of seniority; then on a mandatory basis in reverse order of seniority to qualified employees.
Employees can potentially achieve 60 hours during an eight-day personal work schedule by working one complete overtime shift during one of their four days off, in which case 20 hours are paid at overtime rates. An employee still has three days off after working one overtime shift. In 2021, 97% percent of the time, workers volunteer for the extra hours.
Unplanned overtime is directly tied to excessive absenteeism. It is expensive, disruptive and is a problem MonoSol is committed to solving. We hosted several roundtable discussions with employees this summer on this topic and together we were making good progress toward collaboratively brainstorming solutions. The company’s final offer guarantees no mandatory overtime in the first year to allow these conversations to continue. Unfortunately, the union has rejected any proposals that might modify policies in a way that incentivizes good attendance and provide overtime opportunities for those who want it, while reducing unplanned overtime for those who do not.
MonoSol is proud of how the company and its people managed the pandemic to keep our people safe and protect their income. No employee went without pay during the pandemic. Employees were paid for missed shifts whether due to illness, quarantine or contact tracing. Some employees were compensated for missed shifts over a period of weeks, and in some cases, months. MonoSol paid nearly $700,000 in wages to 172 La Porte employees (averaging more than $4,000 per person) for missed shifts during the pandemic due to sickness or quarantine related to COVID-19.
At the same time, we found innovative ways to partner with local small businesses on multiple occasions to provide rewards of carryout meals for entire families, simply by showing their MonoSol identification card – benefiting our people and local small businesses that were concerned about the possibility of going out of business.
We recognize that being away from work puts our people and their families in a difficult position and can create financial hardships. Our number one priority is to reach a contract so that our employees can get back to their jobs and their lives. We have a responsibility to our employees, customers and community to minimize the length of this disruption and hope that we can reach an agreement soon.
MonoSol, LLC is a division of Tokyo-based Kuraray Group, one of the world’s leading specialty chemical companies. Headquartered in Merrillville, Indiana, MonoSol is best known for its water-soluble, biodegradable films used to make laundry and dishwashing packets marketed by major consumer product companies and private-label brands around the world. Its growing portfolio of applications includes detergents, ag chem, solid surface, composites and embroidery, as well personal care products, water treatment chemicals, transfer printing and more. Visit www.monosol.com for more information.