About 30 workers for Memnon Archiving Services Inc. are participating in a 24-hour work strike from 5 a.m. Tuesday to 5 a.m. Wednesday.
Memnon employees mainly work on archiving, restoring and digitizing different formats of old media for organizations that contract their work, such as IU. During the strike, participating workers will not do any media preservation work or other remote or on-site jobs for the company.
Memnon film studio operator Hayden Blankenship, who is participating in the strike, said some of the employees are also posting information about the strike to their personal social media accounts.
These employees are conducting the work strike in response to delays in contract negotiations between the workers’ union, a Communications Workers of America union, and Memnon, a Sony Corporation company.
The workers are seeking a starting wage higher than $11 an hour, a pay raise based on a cost of living adjustment, an established raise system where workers are awarded a raise every six months, job security and benefits such as excused absences, paid holidays and paid time off, according to the press release from the union. They also want more workplace safety because employees work with many chemical solvents.
Memnon did not respond to a request for comment.
Blankenship said the workers deserve these benefits because they do valuable work, yet they are not rewarded with enough money to pay for a single-bedroom apartment in Bloomington.
“We have workers who have been there for five plus years who have nothing to show for it other than $13 an hour,” he said. “We have workers living together to cut costs.”
After about seven months of negotiations, which started in July 2020, Memnon management and the employee bargaining team sent a contract to Sony lawyers in January, Blankenship said. He said after about six weeks, the contract was sent back with cuts in negotiated areas considered important by employees, such as more job security when contracts with clients end and the opportunity to stay with the company if it relocates. Since then, the union negotiators have reached out to continue negotiations only to be met with responses about four weeks after each attempt.
The most recent proposal was sent by negotiators on March 19, Blankenship said. Management responded with its counter-proposal at about 9:30 p.m. Monday, about 30 minutes after workers announced the strike. He said management then said Tuesday afternoon that management and Sony attorneys would be available to continue collective negotiations with employee negotiators 3 p.m. on Wednesday.
On March 28, Blankenship said the company sent out an email saying they are laying off two-thirds of union members on May 7. Memnon’s long contract with IU is ending in June and, although management had promised workers job security throughout the spring when workers asked, the employees are still going to be laid off, Blankenship said.
“Overwhelmingly, the company has shown that its workers are not a priority,” the release states. “We hope that this temporary disruption will highlight the urgency of these negotiations and the value of our labor.”
Blankenship said there will not be a physical protest outside of the building today.