Unionized employees of Huhtamaki North America picketed outside the company’s Waterville plant Wednesday in an effort to draw attention to their inability to come to terms with the paper goods manufacturer on a new contract.
About a dozen members of the United Steelworkers Union picketed between shifts beginning Wednesday morning. Wearing shirts with “solidarity” and other pro-union logos, the picketers displayed signs demanding a “fair contract.” The picketers were members of Steelworkers Local 449.
Union rank and file members say they have been without a contract for about two years. Lynne Hancock, a Pittsburgh-based spokeswoman for the Steelworkers said the issues in the dispute are wages, health benefits and whether employees would receive retroactive pay for the period that began when the previous contract expired.
“An agreement was reached in July on most language issues with the contract,” Hancock said.
Huhtamaki employs about 360 union workers at its sprawling complex on the Waterville-Fairfield line.
The Waterville plant is one of 15 manufacturing plants operated by the Finland-based company in the United States. Five of the company’s installations are represented by the United Steelworkers, Hancock said.
Best known for its Chinet brand of disposable tableware, Huhtamaki manufactures a variety of disposable paper products at its Waterville plant. The company began operations in Waterville as Keyes Fibres in 1908. The firm was sold to a Dutch concern which was later acquired by Huhtamaki.
A Huhtamaki spokesman could not be reached for comment on the labor dispute.