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Simplot, union begin talks amid strike

GRAND FORKS — J.R. Simplot Co. officials began discussions Wednesday with the union representing striking workers at the Grand Forks plant. 

“We are starting discussions with union officials today,” Simplot spokesman Doug Cole wrote in an email. He declined to comment further. 

A phone call to Brian Nowak, a business agent with the Teamsters Local 120, was not immediately returned Wednesday. 

Simplot workers voted to strike Aug. 4, citing terms of a contract offer from the Boise, Idaho-based agribusiness company. Longer shifts, higher health care costs and changes to retirement benefits were among their concerns. 

Simplot spokesman David Cuoio said a day after the strike began that production at the plant was temporarily put on hold due to previously scheduled maintenance and cleaning. He said workers from across North America may be brought in, if necessary, once production was scheduled to restart.

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