On Thursday, September 21, 2000, the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco and Grain Millers International Union (BCTGM) reached a tentative agreement with The Earthgrains Company that, if ratified by union members in Ft. Payne, Ala., would return nearly 4,000 striking workers to 27 Earthgrains production bakeries throughout the U.S.

Members of the BCTGM Negotiating and Policy Committees voted to accept the tentative agreement at 4:17 p.m. EST. The agreement will be presented to members of Local 611 in Ft. Payne, Ala. for ratification at a union meeting scheduled for 4 p.m. tomorrow at the Wills Valley Recreation Center.

The tentative agreement between the BCTGM and Earthgrains was reached as a result of a number of intensive meetings. The talks culminated when the chief negotiators in the dispute, at the request of the Commissioner of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Services (FMCS), met September 14-15, 2000, in Gadsden, Alabama, to discuss the core issues of the strike that began August 26. The two parties then held talks on a continued basis until the present agreement was reached this morning.

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.

If ratified, the settlement covers workers in Ft. Payne and 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. Upon ratification, 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.