200 Union Workers In Loudon County On Strike

By: Stephen McLamb Email
By: Stephen McLamb Email

Nearly two hundred union workers are on strike at Loudon's International Muffler Company, formerly known as Maremont.
Volunteer TV's Stephen McLamb says a lot went into their decision including a large donation from the company owner.
Workers say they had no choice, but to go on strike after insurance costs went up and the company refused to give them a pay raise.
But some on the picket line are questioning why they must give up so much when the owner of the company donates a million dollars to the American Quarter Horse Foundation for a new hall of fame and museum.
Nearly 200 union workers of the International Muffler Company were on the picket line Monday after workers voted down the company's latest offer by a large majority.
Workers say the contract would have been a huge step backward.
Craig Buhl, a union worker says, "our biggest concern is health insurance. It's about a two to three hundred percent increase in what we started out with before this man bought the company in April."
Dale Smallen, the union president says, "No raise was offered by the company."
Mike Presley says, "he cut our pension out. We've got a 401k. Now he's wanting to cut our 401k."
Workers say they had no choice but to walk out, even though it was in the cold.
Presley continues, "it's chilly but it's worth it. I guess if you've got to fight for something, you've got to fight for it."
Presley continues, "The community helped a lot. They're supporting us real good. Everybody's coming by blowing at us. That's a real uplifter."
One community member donated some firewood to the workers saying he understands.
Bud Price, who is helping the union workers says, "I was an autoworker for 33 years and we were on strike at different times and there were times we needed firewood."
Workers say they're preparing for the long haul and some find it ironic the company's owner made a major contribution to a horse foundation just before buying the company last April, and cutting benefits to them.
Buhl says, "he donated a million dollars for their hall of fame but can't take care of our insurance for us."
WVLT attempted to talk to owner Ken Banks to get his side of the contract negotiations and his million dollar contribution to the Quarter Horse Foundation.
WVLT was told by an official Mr. Banks had no comment.


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