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Cargill employees voting on new contract

Cargill employees voting on new contract

UFCW Local 401 doesn’t believe the offer is fair

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

Employees at Cargill’s processing facility in High River, Alta. will finish voting on a new contract offer Wednesday.

The vote, which started Tuesday, comes with a strike deadline approaching.

Earlier in the month, 97 per cent of workers voted in favour of a strike should the company fail to bring a fair offer to the negotiating table.

That strike would begin Dec. 6.

United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 401, the union representing more than 2,000 of the Cargill employees, is suggesting voters reject the agreement.

“Cargill is trying to tell us that this is all they have to give and that it’s ‘fair,’ but we don’t buy it,” the union said in a Nov. 19 notice.

Cargill’s contract offer includes the following:

  • Wage increases of $2 per hour for production workers and 50 cents per hour for maintenance workers on the Sunday following ratification.
  • An annual 50-cent raise for production workers each January from 2022 to 2026. Maintenance workers would receive a 40-cent raise.
  • A COVID bonus of $1,200 per active employee if the two sides resolve certain grievances.
  • New language outlining the company’s commitment to “treating people with dignity and respect in the workplace.”

But these promises are not enough, the union says.

Cargill had nearly $5 billion in net income during the 2021 fiscal year, which came as employees showed up to work while the plant experienced a COVID outbreak.

An outbreak that saw more than 900 employees test positive and took the lives of two workers.

Cargill can give its employees more, the union said.

“It’s absurd that Cargill would want to see a prolonged attack on their brand. If ever a group of workers deserved more, it is here, now!” Tom Hesse, president of UFCW Local 401, said in the union’s release.

Cargill is optimistic the two sides can come to an agreement before the Dec. 6 deadline.

“We believe that our proposal is very fair and representative of our values to put people first and do the right thing,” the company said in a statement.

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