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235 Teamsters strike at Saputo Dairy in Allegany County

A variety of Friendship cottage cheese tubs
Friendship Dairies

Workers at one of Allegany County's largest employers are on the picket line in a dispute with Saputo Dairy, a Quebec-based company.

Teamsters Local 264 said there are 235 workers on the picket line, at least 100 of them with more than 20 years at the company.

The plant has long been known as Friendship Dairy. It makes cottage cheese, sour cream and buttermilk from the vast Southern Tier herds of cows.

Teamsters Business Agent Mark Boling said the negotiations broke down over wages.

"We gave them a counter offer. They came back and threw two dimes and three nickels at us and that blew it up," Boling said. "We gave a counter offer. They didn't like it. And then they made us wait over 36 hours and then they came back with a last, best and final offer."

Boling said it's not clear that union proposals are being carried to the corporate parent by the company bargainer.

"We're hearing different stories about if he's being truthful with the plant manager down here," he said. "It's been virtual, but we asked to meet with the team from the plant locally and they declined, so we don't know if he put that offer out to them."

In a statement, Saputo said it is working in good faith to reach a new agreement with the goal of an amicable and swift contract.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.