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Kemps employees threaten strike if contract not resolved

Teamsters 120, which represents 166 employees at the Kemps ice cream plant at 406 N. Broadway Ave., posted on social media this weekend that, “Potential work stoppage could have major effects on ice cream supply in the Midwest."

Kemps
Kemps in Rochester on Monday, April 4, 2022.
Joe Ahlquist / Post Bulletin
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ROCHESTER — It seems contract negotiations at Rochester’s ice cream maker might be on a rocky road with a potential strike threatened unless a deal is struck soon.

Teamsters 120 , which represents 166 employees at the Kemps ice cream plant at 406 N Broadway Ave., posted on social media this weekend that contract negotiations are not going smoothly.

“Potential work stoppage could have major effects on ice cream supply in the Midwest: This morning, the workers at Kemps’ Ice Cream plant in Rochester MN voted nearly unanimously to authorize a strike! If a deal is not reached they could walk off the job as early as April 16. Stay tuned…,” according to the post.

Neither the Teamsters 120 and Kemps owner, the Dairy Farmers of America cooperative, have responded to requests to explain the situation, though Kemps did confirm the number of union-represented employees.

These contract talks come in the wake of the 2020 closing of the Associated Milk Producers Inc./Kemps milk processing operation in Rochester.

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Shuttering that plant meant the loss of 125 Kemps employers and 75 Associated Milk Producers Inc. workers. The 200 employees were all represented by Teamsters 120.

Rochester is the main site for ice cream production. In 2019, Kemps said it could produce 86,000 units of ice cream, yogurt or frozen novelties a day, or 40 million units a year. The milk churned to ice cream comes from dairies located within 200 miles of the plant.

The ice cream facility’s history in Rochester dates back to the founding of the Parkin Ice Cream Co. of Rochester in 1911. Kemps Ice Cream Co. of Minneapolis was founded in 1914. Kemps was sold to Crescent Creamery in 1924.

Marigold Dairies of Rochester was founded in 1928 when W.R. Cammack, son of Crescent Creamery co-founder along with two former officers with the Vander Bie Ice Cream Co. of St. Paul, purchased Parkin Ice Cream.

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Kemps, Crescent Creamery and Marigold joined forces in 1961. In 1968, the Dutch company NV Wessanen Koninklijke Fabrieken bought Marigold Foods. National Dairy Holdings then purchased Marigold in 2001 and it was renamed as Kemps in 2002.
In 2004, HP Hood purchased Kemps and then sold it to Dairy Farmers of America in 2011.

Jeff Kiger tracks business action in Rochester and southeastern Minnesota every day in "Heard on the Street." Send tips to jkiger@postbulletin.com or via Twitter to @whereskiger . You can call him at 507-285-7798.

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Jeff Kiger writes a daily column, "Heard on the Street," in addition to writing articles about local businesses, Mayo Clinic, IBM, Hormel Foods, Crenlo and others. He has worked in Rochester for the Post Bulletin since 1999. Readers can reach Jeff at 507-285-7798 or jkiger@postbulletin.com.
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