Kemps workers approve a new contract with 'record' wage increases

·2 min read

May 16—ROCHESTER — Employees at

Rochester's Kemps plant

approved a new three-year labor contract with "record" raises to guarantee that the ice cream will keep flowing this summer.

The new contract was ratified by the Kemps union members with a vote of 82-24 on Sunday, said John Chappuis, business agent for Teamsters Local 120. About 166 people work at the Kemps ice cream plant at 406 N. Broadway Ave.

"We got what we wanted. Workers got record wages, better insurance and vacations, so it was a good deal all around," said Chappius.

The approval of this contract with Kemps' owner, the Dairy Farmers of America cooperative, concluded a bumpy series of negotiations. At one point, the union members

voted to approve the possibility of a strike

. In the end, an agreement was reached.

"We've never gotten a raise like this before. So that was huge. That was a big sticking point. We also got the 'master dairy language,' which is a protection for the workers on grievances. It streamlines the grievance procedure and that was really important to us," said Chappius.

Representatives from DFA did not comment on the contract. DFA has owned Kemps for 11 years.

Rochester is the main site for

Kemps' 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.

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 DFA in 2011.

Jeff Kiger tracks business action in Rochester and southeastern Minnesota every day in "Heard on the Street." Send tips to

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