RED WING -- The Teamsters Local 120 is calling for a national boycott of Red Wing Shoes. The move comes almost a week after the warehouse workers' three-year contract expired and members authorized a strike vote.
They remain on the job, but took the step July 21 of launching a "working families" boycott.
"Red Wing Shoes is a phenomenal product, union made," Local 120 Secretary-Treasure Bill Wedebrand said Tuesday evening. As word of the stalled contract spread, unions have asked what they can do. Now the very people who buy these boots will stop doing so until a contract is reached.
"They all know Red Wing and love Red Wing Shoes," Wedebrand said.
“We really didn't want a fight with this company, but they have left us no choice," Local 120 President Tom Erickson said in a news release.
Local 120's 81 members authorized a strike Wednesday, July 16, after their contract expired at midnight July 15. They have been in negotiations for three weeks to reach a new three-year contract. Contract language issues essentially have been resolved, wages and benefits are the sticking points, union officials said.
"I tell the members we are an inch away from the goal line," said Wedebrand, who is on the Teamsters' negotiating team. "The problem is that the Shoe won't budge."
Dave Schneider, chief marketing officer, released a statement Tuesday. It begins:
“Red Wing Shoe Company has produced premium footwear in the market for over 115 years to protect the workers in the skilled trades due to the significant efforts of our diverse, global employee base. We continue to approach our negotiations in good faith with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters that represents 81 of our employees in our warehouse facility in Red Wing."
The Teamsters also feel they are negotiating in good faith. Wedebrand said members generally received a 1.5% pay increase in the final year of the expired contract. They aren't asking to make up what they feel they lost in the past couple contracts, Wedebrand said, but do want better pay increases in the new three-year contract.
The Shoe said it will continue negotiations: "We are disappointed that we have not yet been able to come to a new contract and will continue to seek terms that are fair to both parties and reflective of our decades-long relationship with our employees and their union representation. We look forward to working through these discussions in the coming days that ultimately affords us the opportunity to continue to support the building of America’s critical infrastructure.”