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Local 563 Delivers the Message of its Diverse Workforce against Cretex to Local Hispanic radio market

Listeners of AM 630 Radio Rey and La Mera Buena FM 107.5 will soon hear how cutting retirement benefits would devastate workers’ futures

MINNEAPOLIS, MINN. (July 10, 2013) – Radio advertisements produced by Laborers Local 563 in response to Elk River-based Cretex plan to cut employee retirement benefits by roughly 80 percent are set to air on two Twin Cities’ Spanish speaking radio stations. The call to action advertisements, slated to begin airing July 10 on AM 630 Radio Rey and La Mera Buena FM 107.5, will inform listeners of the below-the-belt tactics of Cretex against a diverse workforce of loyal union members.

Two striking workers, Alvaro Puente and Julio Ocampo are two members of Local 563 featured in the radio spots. “It’s not right for the company to take away the pension when so many of us have put in so many years of work,” said Puente who has worked at Cretex for 10 years.

Ocampo added that this strike is important for him and his fellow Latino workers. “I have three daughters and a wife. I feel bad I’m not working,” said Ocampo. “At the same time it feels great to be fighting for my rights and the rights of all my brothers and sisters on the picket line.”

Approximately half of the more than 40 construction craft laborers of Local 563 that are on the picket line identify themselves as Hispanic or Latino. These workers have been on strike at the company’s Shakopee facility since Wednesday, June 19, after negotiations between the union workers and management broke down. Workers have been working without a contract since December 31, 2012.

Negotiations broke down on June 18, when Cretex failed to budge from its unreasonable demand to eliminate pension contributions and slash workers’ retirement package 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.

“Our members represent many cultures and ethnicities. In fact, half of our Latino workers have been on the site for more than 10 years. These are very hard working, prideful people who we are proud to have represent us on the picket line. This radio campaign helps us get our message out on two very popular Spanish-speaking radio stations,” said Tim Mackey, business manager for Twin Cities-based Local 563 of the Laborers’ International Union of North America. “Our members had no other choice when their livelihoods were threatened by the greed of Cretex. The general public has the right to hear how deplorable Cretex is being when it comes to the way they treat employees who have given decades of their lives to work there. Our employees contribute money to their retirement funds from their own paychecks. Now this company wants to take all of that away just so they can put more money in their corporate pockets.”

Mackey said he hopes the ads, which feature the words of striking Spanish-speaking workers will help put a human element on this strike. “We are standing up for what is fair. To take away a pension program that many of our members have planned on being there when they retire is just wrong and reeks of corporate greed,” he said. “We will do whatever it takes to make our stance known. These radio spots are just the start. We are ready for the long haul and we are confident we will come out on top.”

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. “We hope people listen to these ads and realize what is going on in their own backyards,” said Mackey. “All of Minnesota should be embarrassed that a hometown company is willing go as low as taking away retirement plans that rightfully belong to the workers who have done all that is asked of them on the job.”

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?fref=ts or Local 563’s website at http://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 pre-stressed 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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