Unionized workers at the Penford Products plant in Cedar Rapids and the plant’s managers have struck a new contract deal, ending an 11-week-long strike. Workers will be back on the job tomorrow. That’s good news to Robert Dennis, one of the workers who’s been on strike since August 2nd. “We can sign the contract and get working and be productive so the company makes money and we’re able to support our families,’ Dennis says. The plant, which employs about 150, has been operating with replacement workers, and Penford president Greg Keely says the experienced union workers will be welcomed back. “We’re looking forward to them coming back and just operating the plant as safely and as smoothly as possible,” Keely says. Denise Krejct is ready to return. “It’ll be good to get back on the job and do the job that we’ve been trained to do,” she says. The new contract improves pensions and increases wages, but employees will be paying more for their health care premiums. Delmar Jelison says union workers gained.”When we went into the strike, we were all in it for one goal and that was to gain and we stood together and came out ahead,” he says. There hadn’t been a strike at Penford Products since 1966. Penford Products supplies chemical starches to the paper and textile industries.
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