Workers of the nation's only Lipton tea plant overwhelmingly voted to approve their first union contract yesterday. The workers joined UFCW Local 400 last year and this was the first time in the plant’s 60-year history that the workers got a chance to vote on the terms and conditions of their employment. The contract covers 240 workers at the Suffolk, VA facility and includes significant improvements to working conditions and healthcare benefits. “For the last ten years, we saw so many of our benefits taken away,” said Paul Garrison, a 16-year mechanic. “But now that we have a union, we’re getting them back again.” Philip Surace, a mechanic at Lipton, said his first experience with a union was when he called UFCW Local 400 last spring. “I didn’t know much about unions, but I knew something had to be done. Enough was enough. I was looking for help and the union sent people right away.” Philip quickly pulled together a meeting with his coworkers to learn about their rights to form a union. “Two months later, we had our union. I would encourage anyone who wants to make their workplace better to do the same thing we did.”
photo: Lipton workers voting on the contract; photo courtesy UFCW 400's Facebook page
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