The union representing more than 270 plant workers at the J.M. Smucker Co. has ratified a three-year contract with the Orrville food company.

The workers, represented by Teamsters Local 436 in Cleveland, had been without a contract since May 5 and had given authorization to strike if a contract could not be reached.

The union and company settled June 20, and union members ratified it through a mail ballot by a vote of 196-69.

The major bargaining issue had been protection of seniority in case of a layoff for the company that owns such brands as Smucker’s, Jif and Folgers coffee.

The protection was included in the contract, as well as some wage increases, said Teamsters Local President Gary M. Tiboni.

The negotiating team and union did not recommend the contract, but “we believed it was not to our advantage to go ahead and strike but to try to resolve it,” he said.

Company spokeswoman Maribeth Burns Badertscher said the company has “a long, proven history of positive relations with all of our employees and firmly believe the agreement is fair to all parties. With negotiations complete, we are all focusing on working together to transition operations to our new state-of-the-art manufacturing facility next year.”

Beacon Journal business writer Betty Lin-Fisher can be reached at or at 330-996-3688.