After an all-day meeting with a federal mediator and union officials, Parks Sausage Co. Senior Vice President Reginald "Reggie" Haysbert said yesterday that he was hopeful a strike against the Baltimore sausage maker could be resolved by late today.
Mr. Haysbert and an official representing striking members of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 27 said the two sides agreed yesterday afternoon that the company would stop for 24 hours the use of replacement workers to run the sausage plant.
The agreement was aimed at giving each side time to consider new proposals for reducing the benefit costs of the financially troubled company.
About 100 members of the UFCW walked off their sausage plant jobs May 9 after reaching an impasse in negotiations over Parks' request for cuts in pay and benefits. The employees had been working without a contract for six months.
Parks Chairman and Chief Executive Raymond V. Haysbert Sr. had asked the workers to pay higher health insurance costs and take a75-cent-an-hour pay cut because the sausage company was losing money.
The two sides are scheduled to meet with a federal mediator again today at 3 p.m. to continue negotiations over wage and benefit proposals.
Raymond Haysbert said last week that the cuts were necessary to Parks' survival.
"Without some relief, they won't have any jobs," he said.
But the workers have said they had already made many sacrifices to keep Parks going, and the company's proposed cuts were too deep.
Reginald Haysbert, who is the son of the chairman, said Parks hired workers last week from a temporary agency to replace the striking workers.
But the company shut down production yesterday and agreed not to hire temporary workers while negotiations proceed today. He said the company might use managers, however, to make sausage today.
"Hopefully, we will be able to resolve this within a 24-hour time frame. . . . If we can't, we'll have to consider alternatives," such as hiring replacement workers to cross the picket lines again, Mr. Haysbert said.