LE MARS, Iowa (AP) — More than 1,500 hourly workers at Wells' Dairy are to vote next week on whether to renegotiate the current contract with the ice cream maker.
Wells' Dairy Inc., which makes Blue Bunny ice cream and frozen novelties, wants to cut $5 million in employee pay and perks.
According to a statement on Thursday, the company's reasoning was ''so that the parties can explore modifications to the current labor agreement that will assist in meeting the company's financial goals.''
Workers are represented by the United Dairy workers, an employee bargaining committee.
Spokesman Neal Kruckenberg said the company has given workers a list of $10 million worth of items in the current contract and asked them to cut $5 million.
The list includes pay raises, holiday bonuses, daily overtime and profit shares, Kruckenberg said.
''In return they've committed to bringing a better profit back,'' he said.
Wells' Dairy spokesman Dave Smetter declined to comment, saying he wanted negotiations to stay between the company and the employees.
''We're being transparent with the employees, trying to give them as much information as we can,'' he said.
In January, Wells' Dairy agreed to sell a yogurt production plant in Omaha, Neb., to a company based in Mexico.
Wells' Dairy said it decided to focus its efforts on sales, marketing and manufacturing ice cream and frozen novelties and divest itself from the fresh and cultured dairy business.
Workers are scheduled to vote Monday and Tuesday on the company's request to reopen the final year of the contract, which ends on December 31st.
''Positioning the company to become a Top 3 national brand requires that Wells' Dairy develop and execute a disciplined and comprehensive plan to control its operating costs,'' the company statement said. ''Wells' Dairy has invited the Employee Committee to assist in the process.''
A ''yes'' vote by workers would reopen the contract and propel workers into another round of negotiations — choosing what cuts to make and having union members vote on those.
If workers vote ''no,'' Kruckenberg said workers would ''basically abide by the contract as it is.''