HIGH RIVER, ALBERTA – Cargill’s beef processing facility in High River, Alberta, is bracing for a strike action from workers, after the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 401 reported that 97% of the 1,400 union members at the plant voted in favor of a strike if the company does not make a fair offer.
The union is negotiating for improved worker conditions at the plant following COVID-19 outbreaks during the last two years. In April 2020, the facility temporarily stopped operations after close to 1,000 cases of COVID-19 were connected to the plant.
UFCW is asking for reasonable wage increases along with assurances of the health and safety of workers.
“Nobody ever wants to go on strike, but Cargill isn’t giving these workers much of a choice,” said Thomas Hesse, president of UFCW Local 401. “If they don’t come to the bargaining table with an offer that fairly addresses the priorities of our members, Cargill may need to get ready for the strongest strike they have ever seen.”
The union stated that both sides are expected to meet twice this week to negotiate.
A Cargill spokesperson responded to the UFCW statement saying that this a normal preparatory step in Canada’s labor negotiation process and it does not indicate a strike.
“As an employer who leads with our value to put people first, it will always be our goal to be a supportive employer and key corporate partner to the High River community,” Cargill said. “We are engaging in regular discussions with the union and are scheduled to meet again on Nov. 9 and 10. We remain optimistic that we can come to the table and reach an agreement.”