BCS Improves Offer, Parties Remain Far Apart

July 20, 2021

Update Posted July 21, 2021

BCS Improves Offer in Second Round of Mediation, Parties Remain Far Apart

“Throughout these negotiations, we have consistently showed our commitment to acting in good faith – and in our employees’ best interest. In our second meeting with the Federal Mediator today, we were again disheartened to see that the union does not appear to share this priority. Thus far, the union has not presented terms that would allow BCS to operate sustainably, nor has it put any of our offers to a vote of its members – which include competitive wages and benefits, the same incredible medical benefits package, and increased contributions to the Teamsters pension.

We are grateful for our employees who have chosen to return to work in the meantime. The truth is they are working under an expired contract because their union is withholding progress on reaching a realistic agreement. We sincerely hope Local 231 changes its tune to act in good faith on behalf of its members.”

Doug Thomas, President & CEO

Update Posted July 14, 2021

Orderly Return To Work Plan Is Agreed To

We are pleased to have worked with the Teamsters to develop an Orderly Return to Work Plan that will allow Bellingham Cold Storage employees to return to their jobs beginning Thursday, July 15. Both parties have worked diligently on the Plan to ensure business operations will continue to run smoothly as we facilitate the transition. We are looking forward to having our valued employees back with the BCS family soon. Moving forward, we will continue to bargain in good faith to achieve an equitable and sustainable contract.

Update Posted July 13, 2021

Orderly Return To Work Plan In Progress

We were pleased to receive a notification at 5:00pm this evening from Local 231 that our valued teamster employees desire to return to work on an unconditional basis.  We are looking forward to welcoming our employees back and immediately began communicating with the union regarding return to work planning.  Our team is working throughout the night to ensure that we have an Orderly Return to Work Plan that takes into account shift start times and ensures we are able to continue to meet customer needs.  Teamster leadership agreed to contact their members again tonight to instruct them that they should not return until the Orderly Return to Work Plan has been established and agreed to by both parties.  Teamster employees should contact your union representatives on Wednesday for new/additional instructions.  The BCS family looks forward to seeing you again soon.

Update Posted July 12, 2021

BCS Gives More In Contract Negotiations

BCS sent the following letter to our employees following a meeting with a federal mediator on July 12 to secure a new contract with Local 231:

To our BCS Employees and Members of Teamsters Local 231,

Today, Bellingham Cold Storage met with Local 231 union leadership to discuss the Last, Best and Final (LBF) offer we presented on June 9. The company came with an intention to continue to bargain in good faith, knowing that this was the union leadership’s first response to our LBF offer from early June. Based on today’s discussion, BCS has enhanced our LBF offer by increasing wages again, and by extending the term from five to eight years, and both parties now await the Federal Mediator’s next meeting date.

This process takes time, and that is why we urged the union to allow our employees to vote on our offer weeks ago. Though we continue to respect our employees’ right to strike, we are here to welcome back anyone who chooses to return to work with full employment and benefits still available.

As we have said time and again, our employees are the lifeblood of our company. Our goal throughout these negotiations has always been – and will always be – to do right by our people, and we believe the contract terms we have shared in the LBF and now enhanced today reflect that strongly. As a demonstration of our commitment to good faith negotiating in this most recent round of negotiations, we were able to find business solutions to extend the contract term from five to eight years – adding an
increased wage scale for that period. We look forward to welcoming you back with increased wages, the same incredible medical benefits package and increased contributions to the Teamster pension.

But we can’t do this if union leadership refuses to allow our employees to choose for themselves whether they wish to accept our current – or, indeed, any – offer. We urge you to talk to your union leaders to ensure they are keeping their members’ best interests in mind at the negotiating table. Transparently, the contract terms that the union presented as a counter would not allow us to operate our business sustainably, and they would jeopardize our ability to ensure your job security long-term.

Once again, our proposed contract terms are sitting with the union for review and approval, and we expect scheduling options for the next negotiation meeting from our Federal Mediator soon. To continue meeting our customers’ needs, we have secured skilled replacement workers until a deal can be reached and the strike concluded.

I and my leadership team remain available to answer any questions regarding these ongoing negotiations. We will happily take your emails and calls, so please do not hesitate to reach out.

Doug Thomas

Update Posted July 3, 2021

BCS Welcomes New Skilled Workers

As BCS enters the third day of a strike initiated by Teamsters Local 231, we continue to operate and serve our customers without interruption. Our dedicated team of supervisors, non-bargaining unit personnel, and crossover employees continue to ensure our customer needs are met. This morning, BCS welcomed 40 new skilled replacement workers to assist with our continued operations and have more arriving in the coming days.  We greatly appreciate the hundreds of emails and calls of support that we continue to receive from our customers, suppliers, and the community. BCS also continues to respect our Teamster employees’ right to strike while we also respect their right to work if they so choose. BCS is now well situated to serve our valued customers indefinitely.

Update Posted July 1, 2021

Back to the Bargaining Table Request?

Today based on an email that was sent to a number of community members by Teamsters’ business agent, Heather Ewing, BCS has received requests that the company “return to the bargaining table”.

Unfortunately, Ms. Ewing’s email is misleading, suggesting that BCS has been bargaining in bad faith and that we have refused to return to the bargaining table.

We have received NO communication from either the Federal Mediator nor the Teamsters that our scheduled mediation for July 12th has been canceled. BCS certainly has not canceled the meeting. And, in fact, BCS just received the confirmation Zoom link for our scheduled mediation on July 12th from the Federal Mediator. Contrary to the Teamsters’ public statements today, they were fully aware of our prior commitment to meet in federal mediation on July 12th , even before their strike today began.

The Teamsters misleading our employees, the public and the media is a very disappointing aspect of these negotiations and we are quite frankly not impressed with their tactics.

Update Posted July 1, 2021

BCS Safe and Sound

Today we received a question related to the safety of our facilities in regard to the Operating Engineering union decision to walk out on a “sympathy strike” along with the Teamster employees.

At 7:15am this morning when our leadership team became aware of a likely strike, BCS initiated the BCS strike preparedness plan which includes a number of different elements. One of those elements is the safe and efficient operation of our refrigeration systems.

We are fortunate and thankful that our Vice President of Engineering, Gary White is likely our most experienced, knowledgeable and capable refrigeration engineer in the company. Gary grew up at BCS, starting his career here in 1987 and has been promoted through the ranks over the years, serving several of those years as a refrigeration engineer within the Operating Engineers union. Gary along with a refrigeration engineering service provider, well known to BCS, are on-site now and monitoring all systems through our Logix Refrigeration Management Software as well as making regular rounds/visual inspections to ensure that all systems are operating in good order.

We are very confident that the safe and efficient operation of our refrigeration systems will continue without interruption and have the ability to ramp up staffing even more if and when new projects
require it.

We can assure you: We are operating safe and sound.

Update Posted July 1, 2021

BCS is Prepared

While BCS, the Teamsters and a Federal Mediator have a scheduled meeting on the 12th of July we learned early this morning that the Teamsters intend to strike beginning at 8am today. At 8am the Teamsters did walk-out and are now striking. We remain disappointed that the Teamsters union continues to not let our valued employees vote on the Last Best and Final offer that the company presented over two weeks ago. BCS initiated a preparedness plan to have dozens of skilled warehouse workers on-site within hours. The company is prepared to operate indefinitely.

BCS will continue to operate the business and service our valued customers.

Update Posted June 24, 2021

Next Steps, Schedule Meeting…

“We have been in contact with a Federal Mediator who is assigned to work with the Company and the Teamsters.  Our Federal Mediator has provided us with two available dates for our next meeting:  July 1st and July 12th.  BCS was able to meet on the 12th of July; however BCS has an engagement with the BCS Engineering team on the 1st.  The Teamsters unfortunately cannot make the 12th work, but could make the 1st work.  As a result, it appears that we will all three need to search for a better date sometime in mid-July that works for the Federal Mediator, the Teamsters and the Company.”

Update Posted June 21, 2021

Still No Vote, BCS Prepared

The Teamsters Union continues to request that the parties meet with a federal mediator in the hopes of reaching a new contract.  BCS has informed the Union that the Company is willing to meet with a federal mediator, and to listen to the Union’s proposal.  BCS has not modified its Last, Best and Final (LBF) Offer.  To date, the Union has refused to allow BCS employees to vote on BCS’ LBF Offer.  BCS remains steadfast that we will take all necessary steps to ensure that our customer requirements are taken care of and that our operations continue without interruption just like occurred during the recent 30 hour strike.  BCS is also committed to NOT locking out our valued employees in the event of a subsequent strike and instead will continue to provide full employment for any Teamster employee who exercises their right to work and continue both their compensation and benefits.

Posted June 19, 2021

BCS Welcomes Employees Back

This evening at 5pm, members of Teamsters Local 231, returned to work at Bellingham Cold Storage following a 30-hour strike. Thanks to the support of our many customers, several administrative staff members and other personnel staffing key roles, operations continued uninterrupted at both of our Bellingham locations during the union worker walk out and strike.  BCS was and will continue be ready to take all necessary steps in order to ensure that our customer commitments are fulfilled while also managing the business in a manner that is sustainable and thus continuing to provide long term job security for our employees.

For questions or more information please email us at:
info@bellcold.com or 360-733-1640