Batesville Casket employees say they are underpaid. And they aren't going to bury their frustration any longer.
Batesville employees have been picketing outside the Manchester plant in recent days in hopes of gaining a new contract which gives them more money.
“All the other plants around us have been raising salaries to keep their employees,” said union vice president Vicki Pack, a Viola resident. “In some of the places around us, they are making $23 an hour. We want the same thing. Batesville is falling behind in its wages and we want to be paid fairly.”
Pack says many of Batesville Casket’s 300 employees live in Warren County. She said about 260 of the company’s employees are members of United Steel Workers Union 9137. Arzie Templeton is the union president.
“They are giving the new hires a $500 sign-on bonus,” said Pack. “Well what about the employees who have been here for years? There are some people who came here straight out of high school. We’ve worked through COVID. Where is our bonus? They should be taking care of the employees who have been here.”
Pack says negotiations between the union and Batesville Casket are set to resume this coming week. A contract extension has been granted until Friday, Sept. 10 in an effort to keep everybody working.
Batesville Casket says it is very appreciative of its employees.
“We are extremely proud of our associates and how they have focused on supporting our customers during the pandemic,” said Batesville in a statement.
As for negotiations with the union, Batesville said, “At Batesville, we are pleased to have maintained employment for all associates throughout the pandemic and we remain dedicated to providing them with market-competitive wages and benefits. At this time, we have entered into a contract extension with the USW. Batesville is committed to working with the union as part of the bargaining process and is optimistic that we will reach a mutual agreement. We do not expect any disruption to plant operations as we continue to work to meet the needs of grieving families during the pandemic.”
Pack said the company has offered to increase employee pay by $1.70 over the next four years. She says that is not nearly enough.
“They are not wanting to give us what we deserve,” said Pack. “We feel like we deserve more than what they’ve put on the table.”