A. Schulman workers did not want to spend Christmas Eve and Christmas out in the cold picketing.
But on Dec. 7, union members went on strike after management offered a contract not to their liking.
Since then, the 70 employees have taken turns standing outside the Bellevue plant with signs protesting the company. At 10:30 p.m. Dec. 23, however, the union -- the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Local 2159 District 54 -- ratified a three-year agreement between management and workers.
"The strike's over," said Andy Campbell, the lead negotiator for Local 2159.
"The company got what it wanted, and we got (what) we kind of wanted -- the agreement was something the membership could live with."
Employees are slated to return to work Jan. 4. The plant typically closes over the winter holiday.
Campbell said the ratified agreement features improvements to the company's last offer, which was made Dec. 4.
Aside from improvements in working conditions, Campbell said the agreement provides increases in wages and improvements to workers' retirement contributions.
Although workers were not in favor of switching to a seven-day work schedule, the union agreed to a modification in the workweek.
Instead of the standard Monday to Friday schedule, employees will work Tuesday to Saturday and Sunday to Thursday, Campbell said.
He said the strike was never about wages -- it was about job security and job conditions.
Campbell said employees proved unrelenting during the past 17 days: They picketed around the clock, braving bone-chilling wind and subfreezing temperatures.
Many Bellevue residents stood behind the union workers in their efforts.
Cars and trucks driving past the plant honked to show support for the picketing workers.
In response, the workers, dressed in Carhartt overalls and stocking caps, stopped warming their hands in fire barrels to pump a fist into the air.
"We're really proud of the members that they all stuck together," Campbell said. "They endured all the weather."
This was the first time A. Schulman employees at the Bellevue plant went on strike since 1976.
Company management wrongly assumed the terrible but prevailing economic conditions would prevent workers from striking, said Dean Wright Jr., president of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers District 54.
Wright said workers were unprepared to accept an unfair agreement simply because of economic insecurities.
On Dec. 6, union members overwhelmingly voted to reject the company's final offer. Then, by an even larger margin, members voted in favor of striking.
In the end, employees fought for a fair shake and they got it -- just in time for Christmas, union officials said.
A spokeswoman for A. Schulman corporate did not return calls on Thursday morning.