The tenacity and solidarity of nearly 4,000 members of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union (BCTGM) yielded a major victory today as the nationwide strike against the nation's second largest baker, The Earthgrains Co., ended.

The future of Earthgrains and its workers is now much more secure thanks to BCTGM members in Ft. Payne, Ala. who overwhelmingly voted to accept the agreement reached between the two parties on Thursday, September 21. The strike that began in Ft. Payne on August 26 spread to involve BCTGM members at 27 Earthgrains production facilities in 13 states. This settlement will return all striking workers to their respective plants.

According to BCTGM International President Frank Hurt, the real victory in the union's strike against Earthgrains is the solidarity and unity exemplified by BCTGM members and their supporters across the nation. "We are very pleased to announce this settlement," said Hurt. "Workers stood up to Earthgrains and demanded respect. We are very proud of our union members for their incredible display of determination, diligence and solidarity to achieve a fair contract with dignity, justice and respect.

"We are confident that this solidarity will prevail as we begin building a new relationship with Earthgrains that is based on mutual trust," said Hurt.

The three-year package protects jobs, limits mandatory overtime, improves wages and pensions, and -- perhaps most important to Earthgrains workers -- restores medical and dental insurance as if the strike never happened. The pact also provides workers the ability to honor picket lines, starting rate improvement, an extra paid holiday, increased night shift premium and the full cost of maintaining health benefits.

The settlement covers workers in Ft. Payne and includes a separate agreement for a first contract for workers in Mobile, Ala. Additionally, the pact establishes the union's Fourth Region Pattern Agreement. Union members employed in Earthgrains' facilities in Chattanooga, Nashville, and Memphis, Tenn., and Atlanta, Ga. will return to work and negotiate a contract with Earthgrains that follows the pattern for each respective location. Striking union members in the BCTGM's Third Region will return to Earthgrains plants in Louisville, Ky., Des Moines, Iowa and Chicago and negotiate contracts based on the Third Region Pattern Agreement.

Solidarity picket lines will be taken down and all workers will return to work in Oklahoma City, Okla.; Forrest Park, Ga.; Meridian, Miss.; Owensboro, Ky.; Dallas and Paris, Tex.; Milwaukee and La Crosse, Wisc.; Oakland, Sacramento, Fresno and Stockton, Calif.; Wichita, Kan.; Dubuque, Iowa; Rockford, Ill.; Springfield, Mo.; and Denver and Grand Junction, Colo.

Earthgrains, headquartered in St. Louis, is the second largest U.S. baker with more than $2 billion in sales and profits in fiscal year 2000. BCTGM members are employed in 46 of the company's 65 plants.

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