WASHINGTON) – A majority of Teamsters currently working in the dairy industry for Dean Foods have voted to approve agreements with Dairy Farmers of America
and Prairie Farms that preserve jobs, wages, health insurance, and in some cases, pensions and/or retirement savings plans for thousands at dairies and distribution depots across the country.
The long-troubled and poorly-managed Dean Foods filed for bankruptcy in early November 2019, jeopardizing almost five thousand Teamster jobs at the many regional dairies it had purchased over the years. Two major companies, Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) and Prairie Farms (PF), stepped forward to bid on large portions of the failing Dean production and distribution facilities. As a condition of the purchase, those companies required some modifications to the existing collective bargaining agreements which were approved by Teamster members in a vote count today. The membership approvals satisfy one condition of the sales transactions scheduled to be finalized by May 1, 2020 at the latest.
Teamsters covered by the DFA group of assets total 3,330 and voted 82 percent to approve. Teamsters covered by the PF group of assets total 536 and voted by 96 percent to approve.
“We fought for, and won, the right of a majority of our members to keep their jobs while maintaining the benefits and wages they have earned through years of hard work in the dairy industry,” said Rome Aloise, Director of the Teamsters Dairy Conference. “Our national bargaining committee held the company accountable for the best possible outcome, and we are pleased that a majority of our members voted to ratify both of these agreements. Unfortunately, a few facilities did not have buyers who were willing to keep the facilities operating, including one represented by my own local union. The failures of Dean are very acute for members of the facilities being closed, and my hope is that those Teamsters in facilities being purchased by DFA or PF have a better future.”
The approved agreements maintain the current wage structure while extending the local agreement by two years. Additionally, both agreements maintain existing employee health care plans if they are in a Teamster plan, or mirror the employees’ current Dean health care plan.