Inside INdiana Business

FireKing hires temp workers amid strike

(photo courtesy of the Teamsters Local No. 89)

NEW ALBANY, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — FireKing International LLC in New Albany says new, temporary employees have begun work at the company’s facility as a strike from local union members continues. The company says it has also issued a cease-and-desist directive alleging the striking employees have attempted to prevent vehicles from entering or leaving the property “and other unlawful behavior.”

Members of the Teamsters Local 89 went on strike last week after rejecting a “best and final proposal” for a new contract. The union cites low wages and high healthcare costs among the reasons for the dispute.

FireKing says its proposal includes its highest first-year wage increase in its history and increases hourly wages in each year of the contract in addition to reducing the amount employees contribute to health insurance costs.

Citing “excessively high premiums and out-of-pocket costs,” the union proposed moving to a union-sponsored healthcare plan known as TeamCare, which it said would have a minimal cost to the company. However, FireKing said the plan would increase its costs by six figures in the first year alone.

FireKing said Tuesday it will meet with union representation to discuss implementation of certain economic terms of its proposal.

FireKing employs 141 workers in New Albany, including 86 Teamsters. The company said it would repurpose the non-union employees in addition to hiring temporary workers to ensure full production continues.

“Using the multiple levers at our disposal, we are quickly bringing FireKing back to full production without an agreement with the Union leadership,” CEO Rick Mejia said in written remarks Tuesday. “We remain disappointed that the Union has chosen to go down this path and reject our competitive and generous offer. However, we must now move on and do what is best for all of our employees, their families and our customers.”

The company issued the cease-and-desist directive, saying it is also prepared to take “appropriate legal action to ensure the safe entry and exit for employees, commercial vehicles and all others having business with the company.”

The union did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday from Inside INdiana Business.