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Simplot workers about to enter third week picketing

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Grand Forks, ND (WDAY TV) - Workers at the J.R. Simplot plant in Grand Forks are still striking after contract negotiations failed again this week.

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Teamsters Union officials say workers rejected the new offer, but may be closer since there is only one last hurdle.

Striking J.R. Simplot workers will soon enter their third week of picketing outside the potato processing plant.

Wayne Dohman/On Strike: "What they are doing is making a worker's life harder here."

Wayne Dohman is one of the 190 striking Teamsters Union Members that make up more than half of the Grand Forks Simplot employees. The sticking point for him is being required to work more hours on top of a 12 hour day.

Dohman:"If they are short on somebody, somebody calls in. You could be working 18 hours, and you come in the next day to relieve yourself. You have not family life. Next your health goes.”

Brian Nowak/Union Business Agent: "If they needed you to stay over it would be considered job abandonment if you left and you would be penalized, potentially fired."

Union Business Agent Brian Nowak says newly implemented 12 hour shifts could easily result unreasonably long hours. He says they have now gave-in and agreed on less of a pension and paying higher health care cost.

Nowak: "We are not happy about that be we also know that we need to get these people back into the plant, we need to get them back to work."

But Nowak says that could be a while because striking workers are standing firm, want some kind of guarantee they won't be working more than that 12 hour day.

A Simplot spokesperson says if the strike isn't settled by full fall production, the company may bring in employees working in other U-S factories.

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