Workers at the High River, Alta. processing plant are scheduled to strike on Dec. 6
By Diego Flammini
A strike at Cargill’s processing facility in High River, Alta. may be averted.
Cargill and the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) Local 401 reached a tentative agreement Tuesday.
Union members have been without a contract since December 2020.
The nearly 2,000 workers UFCW represents at the Cargill plant will vote between Thursday and Saturday.
The union is encouraging its members to accept the deal, calling it “the best food processing contract in Canada…”
Members of the union’s bargaining committee “concluded that they were in receipt of a fair offer and that they were prepared to present that offer to their coworkers with a recommendation of acceptance,” Local 401 said in a Dec. 1 statement.
Contract highlights include:
- Up to $4,200 in retroactive pay for some union members
- A $1,000 signing bonus
- A $1,000 COVID-19 bonus
- A $5.00 wage increase
- A 21 per cent wage increase over the life of the six-year contract
- Improved health benefits for workers and families
This new agreement comes with a strike date looming in the background.
Workers are prepared to strike Dec. 6 if the new contract isn’t ratified. This comes after 98 per cent of UFCW employees voted against Cargill’s previous offer.
“Personally, I have mixed feelings about this,” Thomas Hesse, president of UFCW Local 401, said in the union’s statement. “Our members may or may not accept the offer. If they don’t, I’ll join them on the picket lines in solidarity and on strike. If they do accept it, I’ll work with them every day to make Cargill a better workplace. I will do as our members ask me to do.”
Cargill is hopeful employees will accept the deal and put an end to the labour dispute.
“We remain optimistic we can ratify the deal before the strike deadline and encourage employees to vote on this offer which recognizes the important role they play in Cargill's work to nourish the world in a safe, responsible and sustainable way,” Daniel Sullivan, a Cargill spokesperson, told Farms.com in an emailed statement.