Sessions were held yesterday under the auspices of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS) between the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union (BCTGM) and The Earthgrains Co. The talks will continue today, to explore serious differences between the Company and the Union which caused the nationwide strike now involving 23 Earthgrains facilities and more than 3,000 workers.

The BCTGM Negotiators have initiated a News Blackout on the FMCS Off-The- Record discussions, effective immediately. The BCTGM is committed to pursuing, in detail, the differences between the parties for the purpose of building a foundation that may ultimately result in the resumption of formal negotiations. Such negotiations might lead to a settlement of the strike.

BCTGM Officials were quick to add that they are neither optimistic nor pessimistic concerning the recent talks. However, the union does not want to raise false expectations or hopes among striking members.

“We do not want to mislead our members, their communities or the company; our purpose is to be focused and informative at the same time, ” said BCTGM International President Frank Hurt.

This action was taken to allow discussions between the two parties to be free of speculation about what is or is not happening. “There is no agreement. There is a commitment and willingness, as there has been from the beginning, to seek solutions for settlement of a fair contract,” BCTGM Chief Negotiator Bob Oakley said.

It is hoped this News Blackout will advance and assist the negotiation process and allow the two parties to proceed without frenzy. Additionally, such an action will prevent both union and company officials from developing opinions and a mentality that could undermine the discussions and prevent the process from taking its own course. In the interest of all parties, directly and indirectly, the BCTGM felt this was the right thing to do at this time.

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“We highly value the trust our members place in us and we want to do the best we can in representing them while keeping them informed at the same time,” said Hurt. “This is an attempt to minimize the rumors and false alarms. This is a delicate process and we want to do everything we possibly can to do what is right for our members.”