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Warehouse employment disputes draw support from government

Massachusetts workers typically expect that pay negotiations will not extend beyond themselves and their employers, but that is not the case for employees of an out-of-state warehouse. Ongoing employment disputes have drawn wide support for the workers as they seek a new contract with Laminated Industries. If successful, it would be the first time that these particular employees have had the protection and benefits of a contract.

The Wholesale and Department Store Union is advocating for the employees of the warehouse, which stores various paper products for Laminated Industries. The employees first began organizing their campaign approximately one year ago, which is about the same time that the RWDSU stepped in to help. In April, the workers held a strike that lasted three days in an effort to force the company to hand over payroll data that would be necessary for negotiations.

What sparked these tense negotiations between workers and their employees? At least 40 workers are advocating for a contract that would offer health insurance, increased vacation time and paid holidays, all reasonable requests that most employees expect from full and even part-time positions. County officials have voiced their strong support for these workers and their efforts, and they have stated that they only support the creation of jobs in the manufacturing sector if companies will fairly compensate their employees.

Paying rent, purchasing groceries and providing daily necessities can be difficult when employees are unsure of their benefits and security in their position. Contracts between workers and employers often serve to secure certain benefits and rights for workers so that they can more easily address these real-life issues as they arrive, but not all employers are willing to negotiate with their employees. Although employment disputes are rarely workers' first choice for handling the situation, they often become necessary when Massachusetts employers refuse to engage in open and forthcoming negotiations.

Source:, "State, local leaders back Linden workers in labor dispute", Marisa Iati, Aug. 21, 2016

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