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Union members reject offer from Cargill High River, with strike deadline looming

By: Kara Oosterhuis

November 24, 2021

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This story has been edited to include the vote result.

With a strike deadline looming on December 6, members of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 401 (UFCW) who work at Cargill’s High River beef processing plant have voted against a new contract offer this week.

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The union that represents over 2,000 workers at the plant encouraged members to mark “no” on their ballot in the vote taking place November 23 and 24.

Following the vote, Cargill union members rejected the company’s contract offer by a 98 per cent margin.

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“Cargill workers have told their employer through another overwhelming vote that they matter and that they deserve something more,” said UFCW Local 401 president Thomas Hesse. “We will be communicating the result to Cargill and asking them to return to the bargaining table to respond to our members.”

“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,” he says.

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Strike notice was given to Cargill’s vice president of labour relations on November 10.

According to a copy of the offer posted by the union, Cargill’s current offer includes a $2/hour raise for production workers and a 50 cent per hour raise for maintenance workers, which would come into play immediately after ratification. For the following five years, Cargill is promising increases of 50 and 40 cents per hour, respectively.

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The offer also includes retroactive pay of $1.50 per hour respectively for hours worked since January 3, 2021.

Any labour disruption could have a significant impact on the Canadian beef value chain, as the Cargill High River plant can process 4,500 cattle per day, accounting for around 36 per cent of Canada’s processing capacity.

Find the full offer, as shared by the UFCW, here.