AUSTIN, MINN. — Last week, Hormel Foods Corp. workers from the Austin, Minn., meatpacking plant voted against the company’s latest offer relating to employee benefits, safety and wages. The voting took place Sept. 13 and 14 at the plant and at the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union hall in Austin.
UFCW Local 663 represents about 1,600 Hormel workers.
“This week our coworkers voted overwhelmingly to reject Hormel’s final offer to us,” said the UFCW Local 663 bargaining committee in a statement. “It’s simply not good enough. We stand united and are willing to fight for more for our families and our community. Hormel’s record profits are just wages not shared fairly with the rest of us. The reality is that we keep Hormel running. We demand that Hormel does better and comes to the table for a fair agreement quickly.”
Although UFCW said the deal was Hormel’s final offer, the company continues to express hope that a new contract will be reached.
“We are disappointed in the vote, especially given the significant contract package offered; however, we remain optimistic that we will reach agreement,” said Rick Williamson, manager of global communications and corporate reputation at Hormel. “The parties have agreed to a contract extension until Oct. 8 as we continue negotiations. Hormel Foods has had strong working relationships with the UFCW for decades, including Austin, and remain confident that these positive relationships will continue as we finalize these new agreements.”
The vote came just after the current worker contract with Hormel was set to expire on Sept. 10.
On Labor Day, nearly one week before the original contract expiration date, meatpacking workers gathered for a march through downtown Austin, bringing attention to their plea for a “fair contract.” The march included a stop at the SPAM Museum, dedicated to Hormel’s SPAM brand.