Striking Workers Keep Health Benefits Thanks to Strike Fund and the Generosity of Other Unions

With COBRA benefits reinstated the fight against Cretex can continue to save the retirement plans of workers


MINNEAPOLIS, MINN. (July 2, 2013) – In a showing of support and solidarity, members of Laborers Local 563 will continue to receive health insurance benefits even though they are on the picket line fighting to keep their retirement benefits. A strike fund has been established by Local 563 to support the more than 40 construction craft laborers who are on strike against Cretex at the company’s Shakopee facility.

The fund got a huge kick start thanks to Local 563 who pledged to ensure striking workers will remain covered on a COBRA plan, since Cretex let worker’s health benefits expire on June 30. In addition, several other union groups have donated additional money, bringing the fund’s balance to $125,000  to help the cause and support the striking workers.

“This is solidarity at its finest,”  said Tim Mackey, business manager for Twin Cities-based Local 563 of the Laborers’ International Union of North America. “This fund will make being on the picket line and fighting for what’s right a little bit easier for all involved. Striking workers make many sacrifices when they decide to stand up for what they believe in. Being able to continue their health benefits shows that they are supported and that they can continue to aim their focus on saving the retirement benefits they have earned and are entitled to.”

Members of  Local 563 have been on the picket lines since June 19, after negotiations between the union workers at the company’s Shakopee facility and management broke down. Workers at the Shakopee facility have been working without a contract since December 31, 2012.

Cretex management proposes to eliminate pension contributions and slash workers’ retirement packages by roughly 80 percent. Under the company’s proposal, employees would see hourly compensation (wage plus retirement contribution) drop by anywhere from $2.91 and $4.07 in 2013 depending on an employee’s age and the amount he or she puts into the company’s 401(k) plan.  Simply put that’s the equivalent of a 12- to 17-percent pay cut at a time when demand for construction materials is on the rise. 

“To take away a plan that has been supported by the workers own paychecks is unethical and simply wrong,” said Mackey. “Our members are on that picket line for the long haul and this recent show of support from our union and other union groups is a fine example of the strength of organized labor. Nobody is alone in this fight. It’s a fight we have the resources and support to win.”

Members of Local 563 will remain on the picket line located at 7070 Cretex Avenue South, in Shakopee until the company is willing to negotiate in a respectable manner. “The people on the picket lines are very grateful for the support they have received, especially from the  other unions who don’t have any real stake in this fight,” said Mackey. “To know someone outside of the situation has your back makes it much easier to get up every day and continue to fight for what you deserve and believe in.”

About Local 563
Local 563 represents nearly 5,000 skilled construction craft laborers that are trained in many facets of the construction industry. These laborers apply their trade in 32 counties in Minnesota and the state of North Dakota. Local 563 is affiliated with Laborers’ International Union of North America LIUNA, based in Washington, D.C. For more information, visit the strike Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/Local563WorkersOnStrike or Local 563’s website at www.liuna.org/local563

About Cretex Companies, Inc.
Cretex, established in 1917, is a privately held, diversified manufacturing company headquartered in Elk River , Minnesota. Cretex Concrete Products provides reinforced concrete pipe and other precast and prestressed concrete products serving the infrastructure needs of the central United States . Cretex Companies employs about 1,800 people in 35 locations in 11 states.


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