It's been more than a week since United Steelworkers Local 5859 went on strike at Aitkin Iron Works. As of Thursday afternoon no progress had been reported by either side.
Bruce Rengo, a spokesman for the union, said Thursday there have been no talks with management since the strike began. He said the steelworkers have received support from other unions. One union donated $100 to open an account at a grocery store for the striking steelworkers, Rengo said, while another one offered to pass the hat among its members for strike donations on the next pay day.
Aitkin Iron Works owner Jeff Chatelle, in a written statement Thursday, said the company remains open and operating. Several production workers have reported to work and replacement workers are being added as necessary, he said.
"The company believes its currently implemented proposal is fair and remains willing to meet with the union to get a signed contract," he said in the statement. "The company has met with the union twice since reaching impasse in just such an attempt; however the union has made no movement to reach an agreement."
The impasse, according to the statement, took place before the company offered its final offer on Jan. 19. Management officials said the last agreement with the union expired June 30, 2003 and several good faith attempts to reach a negotiated settlement were made.
When they went on strike at 4 a.m. April 22, union workers said a non-negotiated contract that stripped union rights and seniority rights was imposed on them. They said it was not an economic strike.
Management officials declined to participate in an interview or make additonal comments.
MIKE O'ROURKE can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5860.
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