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Teamsters Say Darigold Walked Out of Negotiations


Seattle’s big dairy cooperative, Darigold, is once again facing worker unrest. The Teamsters have filed an unfair labor practice charge, saying the company walked out of negotiations with a mediator. 

What happened Monday night is kind of he-said, she-said. The Teamsters say Darigold walked out of mediation. Darigold general counsel Steve Rowe says no - a few went home, but he and other executives remained at the table.

Meanwhile, the contract’s expired and the workers have voted to authorize a strike.

Paul Zilly is a spokesman for Teamsters Local 117, which represents about 220 Darigold workers in Issaquah and Seattle. Darigold has a total of about 1,400 workers. 

"We are frustrated and we’re also concerned," Zilly said. "We’re concerned that Darigold is trying to provoke a strike or that they may be planning to repeat the history of the 2003 lockout, which is something I think nobody wants to see."

At that time, the dairy cooperative locked out about 200 workers for nine months before finally reaching an agreement.

Darigold's Steve Rowe says the company wants to reach an agreement soon.

The sticking point right now is health care costs. He says Darigold wants to have the ability to charge workers a bit more for their health insurance if costs go up under the Affordable Care Act.

Many companies have brought up Obamacare in their contract negotiations,  including big grocery stores like QFC and Safeway, which are also in the middle of bargaining. 

In July 2017, Ashley Gross became KNKX's youth and education reporter after years of covering the business and labor beat. She joined the station in May 2012 and previously worked five years at WBEZ in Chicago, where she reported on business and the economy. Her work telling the human side of the mortgage crisis garnered awards from the Illinois Associated Press and the Chicago Headline Club. She's also reported for the Alaska Public Radio Network in Anchorage and for Bloomberg News in San Francisco.