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August 05, 2009

Packaging workers strike in Terre Haute

If you've ever bought a shrink-wrapped Tyson chicken, you've probably encountered the work of Workers United Local 1426 in Terre Haute, Indiana. They work for the Bemis Corporation, one of the world's major manufacturers of flexible printed plastics. About 735 workers have been on strike since July 21. The main issues are the temp workers and health insurance benefits. I interviewed union officials and a Bemis representative to find out more about the dispute.

(The illustration is a photo of a flexographic press, the same general type of equipment used at Bemis to print specialty plastics. Flexographic press photos on Flickr aren't exactly thick on the ground.)


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That's ok, Berry Plastics in Evansville, IN is non-union. We're also purchasing companies left and right and will recently suck up all kinds of business from people going on strike. Good deal for me I guess. The Tyson chicken plant is disgusting. There's a big one in Evansville. It smells. Bad. And I know people who work there. Seriously, you don't want these people touching your chicken.

The Bemis workers don't touch the chickens. They just make the bags to Tyson's specifications.

Bemis generated over $3 billion in net sales last year. It's a profitable company that's been around for over a century. I doubt Berry's going to be buying them up any time soon.

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