AUSTIN, Minn. (FOX 9) - Union meatpacking workers at the Hormel Foods plant in Austin say they're not getting the wages and secure pensions they deserve, while company leaders are still hopeful they can reach an agreement.
More than 1,600 members of United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 663 are set to vote on a final contract offer from their employer this Wednesday and Thursday. Their current contract expired Sunday.
The meatpackers said as essential workers during the pandemic, they made a lot of sacrifices. Hundreds of union workers marched on Labor Day in downtown Austin demanding a fair contract. They’re negotiating for increased pay, job safety, and benefits.
A spokesperson for UFCW said last week, Hormel gave its final offer, but the bargaining committee unanimously recommended a "no" vote because it believes workers can get more if they stick together.
Hormel Foods sent FOX 9 a statement, saying: "While we are disappointed we have yet to reach an agreement, we remain optimistic. Hormel Foods has had strong working relationships with the UFCW for decades, including in Austin. Our representatives will continue to negotiate in good faith."Beginning in 1985, Hormel had one of the most contentious labor disputes in state history. Meat packers went on strike for several months over wages and benefit cuts, and at one point, the then-governor had to call in the National Guard to control the violence and stop protesters from blocking the interstate.