GREELEY, Colo. – Roughly 3,000 workers at JBS USA's Greeley plant are preparing to strike over cuts to employee health care benefits.

Representatives of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7 have been in negotiations with the company since Aug. 1. The union agreed to extend its labor contract until Oct. 20, but said in a news release that “many fundamental issues remain unresolved”. Some of the cuts the union is protesting include:

• Eliminating healthcare coverage for spouses;
• Increasing deductibles to $3,200 from $1,800 a year, and
• Increasing healthcare premiums paid by employees.

Kim Cordova, president of Local 7, called the proposed cuts “unconscionable for Local 7 members who work in grueling and often dangerous working conditions.” Cordova added that the cuts were “a slap in the face for workers who have generated record-breaking profits for this Brazilian-based company.”

JBS responded in a statement, saying: “Earlier this month, JBS and UFCW Local 7 agreed to a one-month labor contract extension that includes retroactivity — meaning any negotiated wage increase would be applied retroactively to employee paychecks to cover the contract negotiation period. Importantly, contrary to some media reports, the contract extension does not expire on Sunday, Oct. 20, 2013, but automatically extends on a day-to-day basis, including retroactivity, to allow both parties to continue good-faith negotiations.

“Out of respect for the process and the people involved, JBS will limit further discussions to the bargaining table.”