SAUGET, Ill. – Members of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 655 called a strike at Holten Meats’ facility in Sauget, Illinois, after rejecting the company’s latest contract offer. A three-year contract expired in September, but was extended during negotiations.

The union rejected the proposal because the company did not include formal seniority language to the contract and declined to extend bereavement leave for grandparents. In a statement, Holten Meats said the company will return to the bargaining table to reach a settlement.

“We are disappointed that the Union chose to reject what we believe to be a fair contract offer that would significantly benefit all of our Plant employees,” the company said. “However, Holten Meat is committed to providing our customers with high quality meat products. We will remain open for business and will continue to meet our customers’ needs.

“While the Union’s strike does present a difficult challenge for Holten Meat and, more importantly, Holten Meat’s employees, we firmly believe Holten Meat presented a fair and equitable contract offer to the union and to our plant employees that contained substantial economic and noneconomic benefits that if accepted would improve our employees’ lives.”

Holten Meats, which employs 300 workers, produces beef, veal and pork products for foodservice distribution and retail throughout the United States. The company’s products are sold under the Thick ‘N Juicy and Healthy Answers brands. The company is a unit of Branding Iron Holdings along with Rochester Meat Co. and Huisken Meat Co.