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Striking Simplot workers accept contract after walkout

GRAND FORKS — Striking workers at J.R. Simplot Co. in Grand Forks accepted a contract Friday and will return to work today after an 18-day walkout.

An “overwhelming majority” of the roughly 190 unionized Simplot employees voted in favor of accepting the contract, said Brian Nowak, business agent for Teamsters Local 120, the union representing the striking workers.

The main sticking point in Simplot’s original contract was a change from eight-hour shifts to 12-hour shifts without a guarantee of limits on overtime, Nowak said.

The contract accepted Friday prevents the company from keeping workers for longer than two hours over their regular 12-hour shift, Nowak said.

Simplot spokesman David Cuoio said in an email, “We are very pleased that the situation has been resolved and are glad our employees will be returning to work.”

Simplot is a nationwide agribusiness operation in ranching, food processing, mining, retail and fertilizer production. The Grand Forks plant processes potatoes for French fries, tater tots and hashbrowns.

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