HIGH RIVER, ALBERTA – Cargill recently served lockout notice, effective Dec. 6, to employees of the High River, Alberta, beef processing plant.
This notice coincides with the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 401’s deadline to strike if both sides cannot agree to a new offer.
Daniel Sullivan, Cargill spokesperson, said the company will meet with union representatives this week.
“Last week we provided the union with lockout notice for Dec. 6, 12:01 which aligns to the strike notice deadline we were previously served,” Sullivan said. “We remain determined and hopeful that we can reach an agreement during this period. We have been in contact with the Union bargaining committee and have agreed to meet next Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2021.”
On Nov. 24, UFCW said 98% of its 1,400 union members rejected the latest offer from Cargill.
“In the shadow of Cargill workers’ demands, we’re optimistic that Cargill can bring an acceptable offer to our members and avert a strike before the deadline,” said Thomas Hesse, president of UFCW Local 401. “But make no mistake, if it comes to a strike, our union will stand with Cargill workers for as long as it takes.”
The union said it is still planning to negotiate and hopes to reach an agreement before the deadline. The group previously asked for wage increases along with assurances of the health and safety of workers.
UFCW 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 linked to the plant.