AUSTIN, Minn. (FOX 9) - Workers at the Hormel plant in Austin, Minnesota, voted to reject the final offer from the company on Friday.
UFCW Local 663 has been demanding higher wages and secure pensions for workers at the meatpacking plant, citing gross annual profits of more than $2 billion and years of suppressed pay. The employees voted on Sept. 13 and Sept. 14 to reject the offer.
"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," said UFCW Local 663 in a statement.
Details of Hormel’s final offer are unknown. Union representatives encouraged members to vote "no" and force them to return to the bargaining table.
While the company and union agreed to extend the current contract through the first week of October as negotiations continue, many in Austin are preparing for a strike. The small Southern Minnesota community in many ways never recovered from the last time workers at the plant went on strike from 1985 to 1986.
In a statement, Hormel officials said Friday: "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."