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Thursday, December 9, 2021

Cargill strike threat at Alberta plant rises as workers reject deal

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The union said members will go on strike at 12:01 a.m. December M. 6 unless an agreement can be reached

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Unionized Cargill Inc. workers at one of Canada’s largest meat processing plants rejected the company’s latest wage offer, prompting the meat packer to consider moving its operations to other facilities as the date approaches. limit for the strike.

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The union representing workers at Cargill’s High River, Alberta plant voted and rejected a contract offer by a 98 percent margin, United Food and Commercial Workers Canada Union Local 401 Local 401 said in a email late on Wednesday. The union said members will go on strike at 12:01 a.m. December M. 6 unless an agreement can be reached, which will affect operations at a plant that accounts for about 40 percent of Canadian beef processing capacity.

Cargill is “optimistic” that it can reach an agreement before the deadline and is willing to continue meeting with the union to avoid a job disruption that is “not in the best interest of anyone during an already difficult time,” said the Thursday, company spokesman Daniel Sullivan in a statement. statement sent by email.

“As we navigate this negotiation, we continue to focus on fulfilling customer orders from food manufacturers, retailers and foodservice, while keeping markets moving for farmers and ranchers,” said Sullivan. “If necessary, we will move production to other facilities within our broad supply chain to minimize any disruption.”

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The labor dispute with the US closed-caption company comes as Canadian meat prices have skyrocketed and workers in the food supply chain push for higher wages. Businesses are struggling to hire workers and retain enough staff to cope with growing demand as the economy emerges from a pandemic recession. Meat workers have complained about health and safety after a COVID-19 outbreak last year sickened half the staff at the High River plant, prompting a temporary shutdown.

“Cargill workers have told their employer by another overwhelming vote that they are important and deserve more,” UFCW Local 401 President Thomas Hesse said in a statement. “We will communicate the result to Cargill and ask them to come back to the negotiating table to respond to our members.”

The union declined to comment further.

Bloomberg.com

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