Hormel Foods meatpacking workers vote to reject offer from company
Meatpacking workers at the Austin plant for Hormel Foods have voted to reject a final offer from the company, but a Hormel spokesperson says both parties have agreed to a contract extension until Oct. 8.
UFCW Local 663, which represents the meatpacking workers, released this statement to KAAL-TV:
“This week our coworkers voted overwhelmingly to reject Hormel’s final offer to us. 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.”UCFW Local 663
Hormel Foods provided this statement to KAAL-TV in response to the vote:
“We are disappointed in the vote, especially given the significant contract package offered, however we remain optimistic that we will reach agreement. The parties have agreed to a contract extension until October 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.”Hormel Foods
The Austin Hormel Foods plant has over 1,700 members of UFCW Local 663, according to the union.
Wages and pension benefits are hot topics in negotiations.
UFCW Local 663 says Hormel has had a gross income of more than $2 billion in the past year, and that workers should be entitled to a larger share of the profits.
“People there, working there I know, it’s all over. People working there and having to get food stamps, because they don’t make enough money, the criteria for that,” said Mike Whelen, Hormel employee.
Many Austin residents also recall the Hormel worker strike from 1985. The National Guard had to be called out to stop the violence that broke out.
Kyle Fett’s father worked at Hormel during this time and was involved in the strike.
“A lot of those guys never went back to Hormel after what happened,” he said. “It left a pretty sour taste in a lot of people’s mouths for a long time.”
Fett is also a local business owner and worries about the impact a strike could have on the economy.
“Half my clientele here are Hormel employees,” he said. “If their income dries up, it puts a pretty big damper on the local economy.”
Whelen doesn’t believe another strike will happen.
“I don’t think we’ll see another strike like ’86. I went through that… not working there but lived in the town. And I think Hormel will come to their senses and shake a fair deal with us and keep things rolling,” he said. “They want to go forward, like everyone else does.”